Why the Kids Don't Blog and Grandma's on Facebook

grandmother with grandchild

Teenagers are abandoning blogs, while members of the "G.I. Generation" are flocking to Facebook. These are two of the findings in a new report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, which put out a similar "Generations" report last year.

The central finding of this year's report is highly intuitive: Across the board, Americans are using the Internet more. Email, search engines, health information, news and podcasts, product sites, travel sites, banking sites—all were accessed more, by the old and the young alike.

But it's in the nuanced parsing of generational information that's the real meat of the report. One of the major findings of the report is that "millennials," sometimes called "Generation Y"—aged 18-33—are more likely to use wireless internet, laptop, social networking sites or participate in virtual worlds. But there were some corners of the internet use that older folks, from Gen X on up, were more likely to use: online banking, for instance, or government websites.

A few other intriguing bits from the report:

• the percentage of adults who watch video online jumped from 52% in 2008 to 66% in 2010.

• over half—51%—of adults listen to music online. That figure was just 34% in June 2004.

• 53% of adults have used classified sites like Craigslist—a number way up, from 32%, back in September 2007.

The most delightful findings come at the tail ends of the curve. One of the only activities that decreased in popularity was blogging. Only half as many teens currently operate their own blog now, compared to 2006. Have our teenagers suddenly become less vain and navel-gazing? Unlikely: Pew speculates that Facebook status updates have become the preferred means of self-casting for the young.

And finally, the most delightful finding of all: The fastest growth on social networking sites like Facebook has come from internet users 74 and older. Usage quadrupled since 2008; whereas only 4% had ventured onto sites pioneered by the likes of Time's Person of the Year, fully 16% do now. If Grandma hasn't friended you yet, she will soon.

[Image: Flickr user wordcat]


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  • joan mckniff

    I am 70 and am neither a "grandma" nor a geezer ! Am so tired of seeing both labels so often. I expected more of you, not so Fast Company, after all,

  • Kurt Johnson

    You're right, Joan. It's funny that younger writers who cry out accusations of "stereotyping" against your generation are worse offenders than anyone, in my observation.

  • John Mack

    Odd omissions in this story:

    1. Blogging 1. Teens have moved to vlogs on YouTube. And yet no mention of YouTube.

    2. Blogging 2. I pay attention to just a few expert blogs. Who wants blogs that are just year-long Christmas brag sheets or tear collectors? Actually, I liked getting the Xmas News from a relative (now dead) because it came once a year and many of our relatives really are interesting oddballs who do endearingly oddball things. Not that I want to be directly in touch with them, and vice versa.

    3. Twitter 1. Many teens, who can be funny to listen to (briefly, Thank God).

    4. Twitter 2. For us adults, some of whom you, in your old-fashioned twee quaintness call Geezers, Twitter is mostly a great source of really interesting articles. Amazing how so many ignorant articles railing against Twitter criticize the 140 character nature. But they fail to realize that many Tweets contain links to thoughtful articles. And it's a great way to get articles from around the word, not just the US, and to hear individuals voices from around the world rather than from "friends."

    I admit it, I have a Facebook account, with false info so it isn't handed over to whomever, and I use it, when forced to, about 3 times a year. By being on there with a false name and a minimal profile and no comments, I do not have to fear "friend" requests.

    5. Point 4 is why Twitter users have been found to be more sophisticated than Facebook users.

  • Matthew Hurst

    I'm going to assume this story had been "embargoed" judging by the URL ...

  • Jim Zaccaria

    I hear that 'Geezers' are Easily Shocked And Offended [no matter their age] and that Many people enjoy a Youthful Outlook and positive uplifting Attitude Long into their 'Golden years'...just sayin... The Older I get, the more I take Life as it comes...Without Expectation I keep what I Like and let the rest Go on by


  • stephanie piche

    What the hell - who the hell is at the helm at Fast Company? You sent out the following editorial "teaser" that was in your "Why the Kids Don't Blog" outbound email to come read this article professional today:

    "Teens have all but given up blogging, while geezers have quadrupled their presence on social networking sites, according to Pew's new generational study"

    GEEZERS? I'm not a geezer but you have just insulted a large group of people in what I would hope to be considered a professional magazine. This is not the first time you have let me down as a publication - earlier this year you equated moms with people who are not technically astute.

    I am really shocked by your lack of respect and this type of journalism is why you are not going to last as a viable publication..... people are going to stop reading YOU and start reading mature sources where people are NOT put down in the course of the day.

  • Paul

    Hi Stephanie,

    Although the term "geezer" is a bit irreverent, the article points to the fact that "The fastest growth on social networking sites like Facebook has come from internet users 74 and older. Usage quadrupled since 2008; whereas only 4% had ventured onto sites pioneered by the likes of Time's Person of the Year, fully 16% do now."

    I doubt "geezer" referred to your age bracket...

    I love FastCompany's ability to offer insightful tech and business posts which aren;t always couched in politically correct, musty business-speak - keep up the good work FC!

  • Kurt Johnson

    No offense taken, Paul. Your comment is just what we'd expect from the "Punk Slackers."

  • Victor Zambrano

    One little detail Fastcompany forgot to add (a recurring behaviour for american journalists) is the source population for the data.

    From the report:
    "The primary adult data in this report is based on the findings of a daily tracking survey on Americans' use of the Internet. The results in this report are based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International between April 29 and May 30, 2010, among a sample of 2,252 adults ages 18 and older, including 744 reached on a cell phone. Interviews were conducted in English. For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 2.4 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting telephone surveys may introduce some error or bias into the findings of opinion polls."

    If not added, it makes it seems as the reported conducts are generalised worldwide, which is definitely not the case.

  • Scott Byorum

    That's what happens when you are only allowed 140 characters per talking point.

  • Jym Allyn

    The decrease in blogging by younger people could be because the Sesame Street generation realizes that "instant gratification is not fast enough" (thank you Carrie Fisher) and that blogging requires time to write and thinking.