The Pew Internet and American Life Project released results from a new round of surveys last week on teenagers and young adults use of social media. What I appreciate in this particular report is that it is one of the first (perhaps the first?) in which we can see “young adults” compared to teenagers. It a welcome change from the 12-17 studies that seemed really isolated from the 18+ ones in a way that seemed to make teenagers just look so different than everyone else rather than pointing out differences by age cohort that were a bit more nuanced.

Given my research interests in media production, distribution, and re-use, I am glad to see updated numbers on what Pew describes as “Content creation and sharing.”According to Pew:

Recent data suggests that some online content creating activities have remained constant over time, while others have shown slight or even significant declines since 2006. Adults, however, have shown some increases in content creating over the past few years, with most of the increases found among adults older than 30. (p 22)

Teens’ numbers, they argue, has held steady when it comes to posting “self-created content,” like “photos, videos, artwork, or stories.” 38% of teen internet users report engaging in these activities without variation, as of 2009, by sex, age, race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. This is a difference from 2006 when the overall number was at 39%, but older female teenagers were more likely to post original content.

More adults also do this stuff since 2006 (from 21% to 30% of online adults), but none of the growth has come from young adults under 30 (the numbers are steady, like for teenagers). Among adults, there are no differences by gender or ethnicity, though there might be by education.

Numbers for “remixing” content haven’t changed much either, at least no statistically significant changes since 2006 (21% in 2009, 26% in 2006). Girls remix more, says the survey (26% of girls, compared to 15% for boys). No variations reported by age, race, or socio-economic status. The numbers for the 18-29 year olds are similar, also unchanged since 2006, while overall there are now more adult remixers than there had been in 2007, due to a increase from 8% to 13% by adults over 30. Little variation in this group by any of the demographic categories.

See pages 22-24 for fun bar charts and a few more details.

Pew’s headliner, and what I’ve seen on a few other blogs, is the stat that teenage blogging is down, down substantially, as is teenage commenting on blogs and on social network sites. According to the report:

14% of online teens now say they blog, down from 28% of teen internet users in 2006. This decline is also reflected in the lower incidence of teen commenting on blogs within social networking websites; 52% of teen social network users report commenting on friends’ blogs, down from the 76% who did so in 2006. By comparison, the prevalence of blogging within the overall adult internet population has remained steady in recent years. (p 2)

In December 2007, 24% of online 18‐29 year olds reported blogging, compared with 7% of those thirty and older. By 2009, just 15% of internet users ages 18‐29 maintain a blog—a nine percentage point drop in two years. However, 11% of internet users ages thirty and older now maintain a personal blog. (p 2)

I’m not sure what to make of that just yet. I have to do more thinking.

I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to take a look at the survey questions, even though Pew has posted a link to them. I don’t want to say much more until I see them. But I felt the numbers were worth posting, and it might even help me remember them.

If anyone can get to the survey questions and wants to email them to me, that would be much appreciated. Never mind.