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Kids Don’t Blog Anymore? Maybe They Never Did

Is blogging for old people? Apparently so. Well, at least according to a new study from Pew Internet Project, that is. Today’s youngest generation of online users are no longer interested in consuming long-form content like blogs, says the research. Instead, communication among teens tends to involve brief bursts of information, like a Facebook status update or a text message. Pew’s findings state that only 14% of tweens and teens ages 12 to 17 now report that they blog, down from 25% only four years ago. They’re also less interested in commenting on their friends’ blogs, too, with only 52% reporting doing so, down from over three-quarters back in 2006.

Social Networks Preferred to Blogging

In the new report, findings show that 73% of wired teens now use social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace, a big jump from the 55% who did so back in 2006. Young adults (18-29), too, choose social networking sites as a preferred method of communication. Among this group, 72% report using these sites. Meanwhile, only 40% of those 30 and older do the same.

But blogging? Passé, says the report. The medium once used for sharing either news and/or personal thoughts and feelings is no longer popular among teens. The why is simple: Facebook. With the ability to update your status on social networking sites, the need to communicate using long-form mechanisms like sentences and – ugh! – paragraphs is no longer necessary. Instead of summarizing a day’s events via blog post for example, a teen may simply update Facebook multiple times throughout the day with the details as to what’s happening in their life at the moment.

These shorter bursts of content, much like the ever-popular text messages sent between friends on cell phones, are easier-to-consume mini bits of information. They take only seconds to read, not minutes. And commenting on them takes only moments as well. Considering the hundreds of online friends people tend to accumulate on these social networking sites, those time savings really add up.

Why the Decline in Blogging?

Although it’s obvious that the popularity of Facebook and its ilk have taken away from the teens’ desire to blog, Pew doesn’t go so far as to speculate why that is. One theory worth considering is that today’s teens are overloaded with information and simply don’t have the time to read long blog posts. They’re already too busy keeping up with texts, multiple social networking sites, email, instant messages, and phone calls – practically drowning in communication tools, it seems. And when there’s too much to consume, the easiest things to drop out of the mix would be those that take the most time: blogging, reading blogs, and commenting on blogs.

Another idea we haven’t seen mentioned anywhere yet is that it’s possible teens weren’t ever really into blogging to begin with. In Pew’s study, they count the blogs found within social networking sites along with what we would typically consider a blog – standalone websites like this one, The Huffington Post, Perez Hilton, Dooce, etc. However, Facebook and many other social networking sites don’t really have a blogging feature, but MySpace does. Coincidentally, MySpace’s popularity has been on the decline for years now. As MySpace visits dropped off, so did the usage of its “blogs.” In other words, if Pew counted MySpace blogs when asking teens if they commented on or wrote blogs themselves, there’s going to be a drop-off.

Blogging, in and of itself, may or may not appeal to teens. It’s hard to know considering how the survey questions were worded. If Facebook had a similar “blogs” feature as MySpace, the study may have read quite differently: “teen blogging soars!” To really determine how popular blogging is as an online activity, it may have been better to differentiate between the standalone sites and the long-form updates found within a social network. Failure to do so confuses the issue and leaves us without the answers a detailed study like this aims to deliver.

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