Teens turn to Twitter to avoid Facebook drama

Twitter is booming as a social media destination for teenagers who complain about too many adults and too much drama on Facebook, a US study on online behaviour has revealed.

The research found that teenagers are sharing more personal details about themselves even as they try to protect their online reputations.

Young people told researchers there were too many adults on Facebook and too much sharing of teenage angst and inane details such as what a friend ate for dinner.

“The key is that there are fewer adults, fewer parents, and just simply less complexity,” said Amanda Lenhart of Pew Research Centre, one of the study’s authors.

“They still have their Facebook profiles, but they spend less time on them and move to places like Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.”

In the poll, 94% of teens who are social media users have a profile on Facebook — flat from the previous year. Some 26% of teenage social media users were on Twitter. That is more than double the figure in 2011 of 12%.

“Facebook just really seems to have more drama,” said Jaime Esquivel, 16, from Virginia in the US.

He said he still checks his Facebook account daily but is not using it as regularly as in the past. He sees young people complaining on Twitter, too, so has been using photo-sharing service Instagram more often, posting a couple of pictures each day and communicating with friends. Facebook purchased Instagram last year.

In what may be a concern to parents, more than 60% of the teenagers with Twitter accounts said their tweets were public, meaning anyone on Twitter can see what they write and publish. About 25% said their tweets were private and 12% said they did not know whether their tweets were public or private.

Teenagers are also sharing much more than in the past. More than 90% of teenage social media users said they have posted a picture of themselves — up from 79% in 2006, the poll said.

Seven in 10 disclose the city or town where they live, up from about 60% over the same time period. And 20% disclose their mobile phone number — up sharply from a mere 2% in 2006.

Even so, Parry Aftab, a lawyer and online child safety advocate, says young people seem to be exercising more caution about their posts.

“They are sharing. This is their life,” Aftab said in an interview. “But they tend to be sharing personal stuff far better than they ever didbefore.”

The poll suggested that teenagers are also taking steps to protect their reputations and mask information they do not want others to see. For example, nearly 60% of teenage social media users said they have deleted or edited something that they had published. Just over half the teens have deleted comments from others on their profile or account.


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