Why don’t students use Twitter?

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Why don’t students use Twitter?

I’ve recently been helping out with teaching 1st year Journalism students at BCU in Birmingham.

Dan Davies – who is leading the course – and I are both former Online Journalism MA students, and hence very wired in to the social networks, blogs etc. However, it’s not our background and education which makes us HUGE Twitter fans, but our AGE.

The students we teach are all Facebook afficionados, they use it every day, and often it’s the first site they log into on the computers, NOT their email. So when we got onto the subject of sources, we began preaching about the benefits of using Twitter.

We’d hoped we’d be preaching to the converted, but as it happens, this is not the case.

In fact the response to Twitter has been VERY slow amongst the 18 year old age group. 1 or 2 (out of 25) in each class had accounts, a few others were former users but, as with many people, “didn’t get it” so swiftly logged off. There was also reluctance to sign up to the service, when we asked them. They just don’t like it.

THE FACTS

And it’s not just “our lot”, a recent study ( The ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2010 | EDUCAUSE) into students use of technology in the US showed some interesting results.

For example:

75% if students have a handheld device or smartphone.

21% of students with handheld smartphones/devices use it to follow ur update microblogs (eg Twitter)
76.9% use it to use social network sites, eg Facebook, Myspace, Bebo or LinkedIn

When it comes to computers, the figures are even more interesting
90.4% of students use computers to access social networks, only 43.5% use it to access microblogs.

21% of students with handheld smartphones/devices use it to follow ur update microblogs (eg Twitter)76.9% use it to use social network sites, eg Facebook, Myspace, Bebo or LinkedIn
When it comes to computers, the figures are even more interesting
90.4% of students use computers to access social networks, only 43.5% use it to access microblogs.

So WHY don’t teenagers like Twitter?

LEAN FORWARD V LEAN BACK

Is Facebook the new TV?, a so called lean-back technology, where the information is pumped directly to you and requires very little effort – think about it, Facebook keeps giving, even if you don’t.

Twitter, on the  other hand, needs participation to yield results: you have to follow the right people to get the right information (which, I know, is the case with Facebook but sheer numbers have given that the momentum now to carry on).

The content on Twitter is hard work sometimes: that extra click to watch that video clip, or read that article may put some people off, and a stream of text could be seen as a turn off. Facebook, on the other hand, is littered with pretty pictures and video to keep you engaged.  A string of words holds less appeal than a brightly coloured link.

All the reasons the Twitterati have shifted from Facebook are exactly the reasons the teenagers love it, the clutter – the bright lights and excitement, the noise and the shouting.

Face it Twitter, you’re too clean for teenagers.


About Author

Caroline Beavon

A communication professional with 12 years journalism experience and a genuine passion for new technologies. An experienced blogger and social media user

1 Comment

Andy Halls

November 26, 2010at 7:59 am

I agree that Twitter seems to be used by a minority of students.

I’m leading a discussion today on challenges journalists face in the modern newsroom, as part of a University assignment, and have had to tone down the Twitter content, as of a class of around 10 of us, just my co-presenter and I have active accounts.

My main worry with Twitter is that it takes a while to see the appeal, at least in the eyes of everyday individuals testing it out for the first time.

I use Twitter, mainly, for journalistic means. It’s a good opportunity to network, and connect with people I wouldn’t have been able to but by chance.

When my friends ask me, ‘so what’s the point of Twitter?’ I usually find myself responding with a sentence similar to ‘well, I use it for journalism, but I’m not sure’.

Other than being a great opportunity stalk celebrities and see follows ‘trends’, what is the real appeal of Twitter?

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