For Twitter, The Kids Aren’t Alright

Just 11 per cent of Twitter users are aged 12 to 17, reports the New York Times (via Comscore).

Silicon Alley Insider writes about a ‘veteran venture capitalist’ being overheard saying that, “Twitter had better sell out before it’s too late.  Young people don’t like Twitter.  My kids think Twitter’s bullshit.”

Earlier this year, Morgan Stanley unveiled the research of a 15-year old who suggested that while teenagers were ‘consuming social media’, they were ignoring Twitter.

Meantime, use of social media by adults in the 35 to 64 demographic grew 60 per cent in the last year.

This is all great news.

The reason why Facebook and Bebo are popular with kids is the same reason why MySpace used to be – the social media on there is rich. It’s rich media. It’s videos, photos, music, games, quizzes and other interactive applications. These worlds are colourful and fun. They’re also less demanding of your attention. You can drift in, and you can drift out, and nobody minds.

Twitter is entirely text-based; those that are good with crafting a sentence or turning a phrase are rewarded. For the most part, kids don’t do well with prose. I’ve been privy to some of the things my 13-year old (and otherwise quite brilliant) son chats about with his friends online, and believe me, we don’t want any of that on Twitter. You think there’s a lot of pointless babble now? Just you wait.

Sure, you can link to all the rich media you want, but the platform itself is all about words. If you want to watch a video, listen to some music or look at a photo, you have to leave Twitter and go somewhere else. I hope this never changes, as I don’t want to see any of these things on Twitter. Ever.

And Twitter likes it when you make an effort. It doesn’t matter if you’re a brand, a guru, a single mom, or some guy living out in the woods with a laptop. If you don’t have anything to say, people stop paying attention.

I like the idea of an adult-only network (in the non-porn/swinger sense). In fact, I really like it. And if the only way to get kids to tweet is by providing them with all this rich media, I say ‘oh well’. That’s a shame, because all we have are lots and lots of words.

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.