American teenagers today are utilizing the interactive capabilities of the internet as they create and share their own media creations. Fully half of all teens and 57% of teens who use the internet could be considered Content Creators. They have created a blog or webpage, posted original artwork, photography, stories or videos online or remixed online content into their own new creations.

About 21 million or 87% of those ages 12-17 use the internet, according to a survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. The results highlight that this is a generation comfortable with content-creating technology. Teens are eager to share their thoughts, experiences, and creations with the wider internet population. Some key findings:

  • 33% of online teens share their own creative content online, such as artwork, photos, stories or videos.
  • 32% say that they have created or worked on webpages or blogs for others, including groups they belong to, friends or school assignments.
  • 22% report keeping their own personal webpage.
  • 19% of online teens keep a blog, and 38% of online teens read blogs.
  • 19% of internet-using teens say they remix content they find online into their own artistic creations.

    Teens are often much more enthusiastic authors and readers of blogs than their adult counterparts. Teen bloggers, led by older girls, are a major part of this tech-savvy cohort. Teen bloggers are more fervent internet users than non-bloggers and have more experience with almost every online activity in the survey. “For American teens, blogs are about self-expression, building relationships, and carving out a presence online,” said Amanda Lenhart, co-author of the report entitled, “Teen Content Creators and Consumers” and Senior Research Specialist at the Project. “Most young people aren’t spending their time at the highly-trafficked A-list blogs. They’re reading and creating the ‘long-tail’ of blogs—personal sites read by networks of friends and family.”

    These findings are based on a November 2004 survey of 1,100 youth ages 12 to 17 and their parents. The margin of error for responses based on the sample of teens or parents is ± 3 percentage points at a 95% confidence level.

    Teens continue to actively download music and video from the internet and have used multiple sources to get their files. Half of online teens (51%) report downloading music, compared to just 18% of adults who report similar behavior. Nearly one third (31%) of teens report downloading video files so that they can watch them any time they want.

    Teens who get music files online believe it is unrealistic to expect people to self-regulate and avoid free downloading and file-sharing altogether. Out of the 622 teens in our survey who say they have tried music downloading, 75% agree with the statement that, “Music downloading and file-sharing is so easy to do, it’s unrealistic to expect people not to do it.” Just 23% disagreed with this statement.

    “Today’s online teens have grown up amidst the chaos of the digital copyright debate, and it shows,” said Mary Madden, a Research Specialist at the Project and co-author of the report. “At a time when social norms around digital content don’t always appear to conform with the letter of the law, many teens are aware of the restrictions on copyrighted material, but believe it’s still permissible to share some content for free.”

    About half of them think free downloading and file-sharing copyrighted content without permission is generally wrong, yet roughly the same number say they don’t care about the copyright on the music files that they download.

    About the Pew Internet & American Life Project: The Pew Internet Project produces reports that explore the impact of the internet on children, families, communities, the work place, schools, health care, and civic/political life. The Project aims to be an authoritative source on the evolution of the internet through collection of data and analysis of real-world developments as they affect the virtual world. It does not advocate policy outcomes. Support for the non-profit Pew Internet Project is provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts. The Project is an initiative of the Pew Research Center. The Project’s Web site: