Teens are migrating to Twitter because many parents are on Facebook, but they don’t tweet.

Teenagers don’t tweet and will never tweet because it’s too public, too many older users and not cool.  That’s been the prediction for a while now, born of numbers showing that fewer than one in 10 teens were using Twitter early on.

But then their parents, grandparents, neighbors, parents’ friends and anyone in-between started friending them on Facebook, the social networking site of choice for many — and a curious thing began to happen.

Suddenly, their space wasn’t just theirs anymore. So more young people have started shifting to Twitter, almost hiding in plain sight.

“I love twitter, it’s the only thing I have to myself … cause my parents don’t have one,” Britteny Praznik, a 17-year-old who lives outside Milwaukee, gleefully tweeted recently.

While she still has a Facebook account, she joined Twitter last summer, after more people at her high school did the same. “It just sort of caught on,” she says.

Teens tout the ease of use and the ability to send the equivalent of a text message to a circle of friends, often a smaller one than they have on crowded Facebook accounts. They can have multiple accounts and don’t have to use their real names. They also can follow their favorite celebrities and, for those interested in doing so, use Twitter as a soapbox.

The growing popularity teens report fits with findings from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, a nonprofit organization that monitors people’s tech-based habits. The migration has been slow, but steady. A Pew survey last July found that 16 percent of young people, ages 12 to 17, said they used Twitter. Two years earlier, that percentage was just 8 percent.

“That doubling is definitely a significant increase,” says Mary Madden, a senior research specialist at Pew. And she suspects it’s even higher now.

Meanwhile, a Pew survey found that nearly one in five 18- to 29-year-olds have taken a liking to the micro-blogging service, which allows them to tweet, or post, their thoughts 140 characters at a time.

Early on, Twitter had a reputation that many didn’t think fit the online habits of teens — well over half of whom were already using Facebook or other social networking services in 2006, when Twitter launched.

“The first group to colonize Twitter were people in the technology industry — consummate self-promoters,” says Alice Marwick, a post-doctoral researcher at Microsoft Research, who tracks young people’s online habits.




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