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

Teens have all but given up blogging, while geezers have quadrupled their presence on social networking sites, according to Pew’s new generational study of the Internet.

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]


Help us keep Fast Company free online: Fill out this short survey.


About the author

David Zax is a contributing writer for Fast Company. His writing has appeared in many publications, including Smithsonian, Slate, Wired, and The Wall Street Journal