Reports Claim Teens Don’t Tweet: We Call Bollocks

Stats that show that teens are less likely to use Twitter than adults have made the rounds today with the claim that Teens Don’t Tweet. We’re calling bollocks, because the stats say nothing of the sort.

The stats behind the claim come from Neilsen Online, who were the first to claim that “teens don’t tweet.” Mashable followed up with the same claim in this post. The claim makes for a nice headline, but it isn’t supported by the very same stats used to back it up.

The report from Neilsen found that only 16% of Twitter users were under the age of 25, vs 64% of users being between the age of 25 and 54. Neilsen writes that 25% of the online population is under the age of 25, so teens are under-represented on Twitter vs their online presence to the tune of 34%.

Let me pull the key points out of the last paragraph: 16% of Twitter users under 25…they are under-represented vs online population. Is there anything there that suggests that teens don’t Tweet? To the contrary, the stats show that a healthy 16% of all Twitter users are teens. If it was 1% or 2% maybe the teens don’t tweet claim could be justified.

But there’s something else in these stats worth mentioning: they’re measuring usage rates (time on site/ traffic) not actual account holders. We don’t know what the account split is, but we do know one thing about usage: Twitter is a live microblogging service most commonly used on a computer (Neilsen measures computer use.) Where are teens during the average weekday? They’re in school with little to no access to Twitter. 25-54 year olds are ALWAYS going to be over-represented vs teens because 25-54 year olds work for a living, and many sit in front of a computer ALL DAY, providing ample access to Twitter. The kids don’t stand a chance statistically here because there’s a sizeable adult population on the service to begin with, vs something like AIM or Yahoo Messenger which tends to be less favored by adults vs teens.

There are plenty of teens on Twitter, although you won’t see many during a normal workday. That they are under-represented statistically measured by use is a given, but that doesn’t mean that teens aren’t using Twitter either.