WASHINGTON — Content creation by teenagers continues to grow, with 64% of online teenagers ages 12 to 17 engaging in at least one type of content creation, up from 57% of online teens in 2004.

Fueled by new technologies, websites, and social network domains such as Facebook and MySpace, large numbers of teens share and create materials online:

  • 39% of online teens share their own artistic creations online such as artwork, photos stories, or videos
  • 33% of online teens create or work on webpages or blogs for others, including friends, groups they belong to or school assignments
  • 28% of online teens have created their own blog, up from 19% in 2004, and almost completely driven by the popularity of blogging among girls
  • 27% of online teens maintain their own webpage
  • 26% of online teens remix content they find online into their own creations

Girls continue to dominate most elements of content creation. Some 35% of all teen girls blog, compared with 20% of online boys, and 54% of wired girls post photos online compared with 40% of online boys. Boys, however, do dominate one area – posting of video content online – online teen boys are nearly twice as likely as online girls (19% vs. 10%) to have posted a video online somewhere where someone else could see it.

These findings are highlighted in a new report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, “Teens and Social Media.” The report is based on a national phone survey of 935 youth ages 12-17 in November 2006. The margin of error for the survey is 4 percentage points.

The survey found that content creation is not just about sharing creative output; it is also about participating in conversations fueled by that content. Nearly half (47%) of online teens have posted photos where others can see them, and 89% of those teens who post photos say that people comment on the images at least “some of the time.” Teens who post videos report a similarly large incidence of feedback, with nearly three quarters (72%) of video posters receiving comments on their videos.

“Content is created for an audience,” notes Amanda Lenhart, Senior Research Specialist and one of the authors of the report. “For teens, the beauty of the internet, particularly social networking websites, is that content can be created and easily shared among a network of friends. Even more compelling is that people in those social networks can easily comment and give feedback on shared content.”

However, many teen content creators do not simply plaster their creative endeavors on the Web for anyone to view; many teens limit access to content that they share. Some 66% of teens with social network profiles restrict access to their profiles in some way and 77% of teens who upload photos restrict access to them at least “some of the time.” In contrast, 58% of adults who post photos restrict access to them in some way. A smaller percentage of teens who upload videos (54%) restrict access to them.

Social network sites affect teens’ lives in other ways beyond providing space for content creation and feedback. For many teens they are now an integral part of the system of communication that they use to conduct the work of their lives. Fully 41% of the teens who use MySpace, Facebook or other social network sites say they send messages to friends via those sites every day.

The Pew Internet report also highlights a new segment of “multi-channel” teens. These teens are super-communicators who have a host of technology options for dealing with family and friends – traditional landline phones, cell phones, texting, social network sites, instant messaging, and email. They represent about 28% of the entire teen population and they are more likely to be older girls.

These super-communicator teens have all kinds of interactions with their friends at levels equal to or greater than other teens, including face-to-face visits and phone chats via traditional landlines. And as with all teens, email is selected only as a last resort to stay in touch with friends.

“Access to social networks and cell phones has opened up new channels for today’s teens,” said Mary Madden, Senior Research Specialist and an author of the report. “New technology increases the overall intensity and frequency of their communication with friends, with email being the one glaringly uncool exception in their eyes.”

Asked about the communication they have every day with their friends, the multi-channel teens say:

  • 70% talk daily with friends on a cell phone
  • 60% send text messages daily
  • 54% instant message
  • 47% send messages daily over social network sites
  • 46% talk to friends on a landline phone
  • 35% spend time with friends in person daily
  • 22% send email every day to friends

Apart from the super-communicators, cell phones have a significant impact on communication choices among teens. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of teens now have a cell phone and for teens who have them, they are the premier communication method for talking with friends. Among teens with cell phones, 55% say they use them to talk with friends every day.

About the Pew Internet & American Life Project: The Pew Internet Project produces reports that explore the social impact of the internet. 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 website: https://legacy.pewresearch.org/internet