new study released earlier this month seems to contradict findings from Pew Internet Project's February report on the declining blog authorship and blog readership among the youngest generation of online users. Instead of seeing a downward trend in blogging, the latest research appears, at first glance, to have us questioning those prior reports.A
According to the latest study, this one from BlogHer and iVillage (red flag?) and co-sponsored by Ketchum and The Nielsen Company, young adults known as "Millenials" are the top demographic group in both reading and writing blogs, with nearly one third reporting they read blogs and just over 40% saying they blog themselves.
So was the earlier study - the one claiming "kids don't blog" anymore - wrong?
Odd Demographics Studied
In the new study, the focus was on four age groups: Millenials (ages 18-25), Gen X/Y (26-42), Boomers (43-61) and Seniors (62-76).
This is a confusing segmentation of demographic groups because they've lumped in some of the millenials with the "Gen X" group to create a hybrid group called "Gen X/Y." The term Millenials, however, is often used interchangeably with Gen Y, so it's unclear why they've decided to break up that demographic group in this way. To boost Gen X's numbers, perhaps? We can't be sure.
Ignoring Those Under 18
More importantly, the study simply ignores the youngest generation, the one we like to call "Generation I" or the "iGeneration" (you can guess why), which was a major focus of Pew's study. In fact, Pew's study showed that only 14% of tweens and teens ages 12 to 17 report that they blog, down from 25% only four years ago. And only 52% report reading and commenting on their friends' blogs, down from over three-quarters back in 2006.
In other words, the Internet's newest users aren't blogging or all that interested in reading blogs. Instead, they prefer Facebook, said the study. It's their method of communication between friends and for getting the latest news.
Yes, sigh, Facebook is the new Internet. And the social network's latest moves will only further solidify that position with the launch of the universal like button for the entire Web, the "instant personalization" provided by websites like Pandora and Yelp (to start), the "sign in with Facebook" boxes that appear on seemingly every site now, and so on.
How this youngest online generation uses the Internet is an important trend to watch. Although their habits may change over time, it's worth considering that their general disinterest in sharing their thoughts, feelings, news and ideas via blogging is a trend that will continue as they age. After all, who needs to blog when you have Facebook?
For what it's worth, the BlogHer/iVillage study found that those 18-25 were most likely to write or read blogs, with 40.4% reporting they write blogs and 30.3% reporting they read them. The mysterious Gen X/Y group was a close second, with 28.1% of the group saying they were blog authors and 29.3% saying they were blog readers.
Some of the other numbers are questionable, although we have no way of proving their legitimacy or lack thereof. But really: 12.8% of bloggers are seniors? This is perhaps the most shocking number of them all. Nothing against seniors, of course, but I live in a state filled with them, and I have yet to meet a single senior who even knows what a blog is, much less authors one.
At the end of the day, the study's numbers just feel a little too bullish on this whole blogging thing for my tastes. Plus, there's little info about the methodology included in the report [PDF] - and then there's the fact that BlogHer, a blogging community for women, is, in part, behind the research.
The truth of the matter is that neither this latest study nor Pew's research is likely painting an entirely accurate picture of the blogging landscape. We've questioned Pew's methodology many times in the past and we're skeptical of positive studies put out by those who would benefit from the news.
Our advice? Take both reports with a grain of salt.