Why don't teens tweet?

It has emerged this summer that teenagers aren't getting into Twitter with as much vigour as the 25+ age group. Mashable posted some statistics that seem to confirm it.

If Twitter can't woo the younger, tech-loving crowd, it not only has bad implications for its future but also for its monetisation model (presuming that Twitter, at some point, wants to try its hand at making money). Particularly since one of the monetisation models that other social networks have used successfully, virtual gift giving and buying, is something that teens seem to take a lot more seriously than adults. After all, on my wedding anniversary I won't be sending my husband a virtual pint over Facebook. But my teen neighbour might be more prone to sending one to her crush.

The interesting question is, why? Why don't teens like Twitter? Some people think it's too 'geeky' for teens, but teens are into all sorts of geekware.

I'd be interested to hear other people's views. For me the answer is obvious - that is, Twitter isn't obvious enough for teens. Teens today want immediate gratification. In my opinion Twitter takes at least a month of fairly heavy usage to build up a community and start seeing how to use it properly with followers and followees, and gain some benefit out of it. Just following celebrities isn't exciting enough to keep teens interested; they will need to build their own communities of friends and other teens with similar interests. And this is something that takes time to build up. Also Twitter's background customisation tool isn't exactly easy to use and teens want their own identity on everything they touch. Will average non-techie teens bother playing with it? It took me ages to get mine right and that was with the help of a professional designer.

Or, are teens actually using Twitter and they've just managed to fly under our radar in terms of how they are accessing it? The Mashable article briefly explores this question, which isn't easy to answer, especially since Twitter is allergic to giving out usage figures.

Do you agree or have other reasons in mind? Would be interested in hearing your comments.


  1. Do us oldies really want teens on Twitter? I quite like the semi-lucid conversation one can have with one's peers on Twitter - and there's enough inane chatter on their already, imagine what teenagers would do to it!

    As with all things on the Web, it's horses for courses, so teens have their things and pros have theirs. If Twitter is still with us in 5/10 years time then I'm sure the teens will have become entry-level pros and will be looking to use it.

  2. I'm wholly unqualified to say anything, being neither a teen nor a sociologist, but......

    As a teen, your world is likely to be a little smaller than those that have ventured out into the world outside of the bubble of school/college etc. Your pool of “mates and family” is enough to get by and you've probably pooled those on the likes of Facebook/Bebo, etc.

    With regards those sites, the same goes for me – my “mates and family” are on Facebook, it's a little bubble where I can share in jokes, say what I think to people I know will get what I'm on about – and link to embarrassing pop videos without widespread public humiliation! Some people add every person they've ever met or spoke to, but I'm a quality over quantity person in Facebookland.

    Twitter is where I go to expand on that world. Most of the people I follow I've never met in the real world. The ones I have met, I first knew of their existence via Twitter. I'm interested in different ideas, different views of the world – and a general nose at what is going on in certain places.... like newspapers. Along the way I get tweets of people's breakfast and boozing habits, but by and large Twitter is a useful way to help avoid a general ignorance of the outside world.

    As a teen, why would you want to expand on your world in that way? Your needs and pressures in life are different. Your world of “mates and family” largely serves your needs already......and you don't need two platforms to link to them with.

    Of course, it could just not be cool enough...or whatever the appropriate teen terminology is (probably not "cool")!

  3. I think it might be just down to shyness. Teens love SMS, but they are direct and private. A tweet means you have to stand up and be seen by your peers when you say something out loud - and kids can be cruel can't they?


  4. Thanks for the comments...

    @Chris - I quote Twitter CEO Evan Williams "The only way that Twitter is just a fad (and won't be around in 5/10 years) is if someone comes along and does it better"

    @Hemminac - Interesting viewpoint about the smaller world teens live in. I hadn't thought of it and it might be a big part of the explanation