Social media use on the rise, but fewer young people are blogging


So why are young people less interested in blogging?

The explosion of social networking is one obvious answer. The Pew survey found that 73 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds who have access to the internet use social-networking sites such as Facebook. That compares with 65 percent two years ago and 55 percent four years ago.

With social networking has come the ability to do a quick status update, and that has “kind of sucked the life out of long-form blogging,” says Amanda Lenhart, a Pew senior researcher and lead author of the latest study.

More young people now access the internet from a mobile device like a cell phone, only increasing the need for brevity in their communications. The survey found, for instance, that half of 18- to 29-year-olds have accessed the internet from a mobile device.

All of that rings true to Sarah Rondeau, a freshman at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass.

“It’s a matter of typing quickly. People these days don’t find reading that fun,” the 18-year-old student says. She loves Facebook and has recently started using Twitter to share pictures of her dorm room and blurbs about campus life, which are, in turn, shared on the Holy Cross web site for prospective students.

Arax-Rae Van Buren, who writes about trends, travel, and food on her Kiss and Type blog, is relaunching her site with a mobile audience in mind. “It is imperative that the site design is translatable to a phone,” says the 24-year-old New Yorker.

Meanwhile, New Yorker Jackie Huang hasn’t made a posting on her long-form blog in two years.

Now 25, she started blogging when she was a college freshman, using Xanga and then WordPress to tell friends, family, and a few strangers about anything from travel experiences to pop culture to politics.

“My blog was my own little soapbox,” says Huang, who works for a communications agency. Now, however, she now uses Facebook and Twitter to communicate—though she’s still not too hot on tweeting.

While teens are big users of almost all other online applications, Twitter remains an exception, the Pew report found. Just 8 percent of internet users ages 12-17 use Twitter. About 19 percent of adult internet users say they use Twitter or other “micro-blogging” services.

There are early signs that micro-blogging on sites such as Twitter might actually create long-form bloggers out of people who get frustrated by the constraints of the 140-word limit. Already, sites such as Tumblr and FriendFeed have emerged to allow for expansion of thought and content, though it remains to be seen whether those services will catch on with younger people.

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