Vivienne Arnold has sent a link to a great article by Kevin Anderson in the Guardian PDA blog that summarizes research on how teens are using Twitter and Facebook, including the study by 15-year-old Matthew Robson that has been making waves.
Kevin Anderson: Twitter and teens: Challenging the idea of the young digital native, Guardian, 14 July 2009.
In brief: Matthew Robson provided a large number of anecdotes showing that while teens and young adults use social networking sites extensively, relatively few of them are using Twitter. This confirms other research showing that about 99% of 18-24 year olds have profiles on social networks, but only 22% use Twitter. Most of Twitter's 10m or so users are over 35. For more on Matthew Robson see Eamonn Fitzgerald, Spotlight Online, 14 July 2009
Now Kevin Anderson says that looking more closely at the way the generations are using social networking in fact challenges the whole concept of the "digital native". The same people who have general literacy problems also have digital literacy problems, and will use technology in a very limited way, while the older generation is more likely to embrace new media trends these days. Issues of cost and technical complexity are just as vexing to the younger generation. They shun Twitter because updating the microblogging service from their phones (their preferred networking device) costs more that IM (instant messaging). Older users, by contrast, tend to access social networking sites more frequently from their computers, so cost doesn't figure as prominently.