Generation Internet: That’s Anyone Under 30, Not Just Teens

Though it’s fun to talk about the digital habits of kids as if they were a separate, SMS-crazed species, what happens when teens hit 20? Do they turn the page on their youth and assimilate into adult Internet use? Maybe not. It’s starting to look like online teens may actually have a lot in common with young adults. In two recent surveys by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, many categories of usage saw a high degree in overlap between teens and 18- to 29-year-olds. In fact, it was the over-30 crowd that was the odd man out.

Here are some findings from Pew:

* In the overall U.S. adult population, 74 percent of all adults go online. However, if you narrow that to those aged 18-29, it’s 93 percent. Ages 12-17 — also 93 percent.

* Direct from a joint report write-up on social networking: “Young adults act much like teens in their tendency to use these sites.¬†Fully 72% of online 18-29 year olds use social networking websites, nearly identical to the rate among teens, and significantly higher than the 40% of internet users ages 30 and up who use these sites.”

* While blogging has increased among older adults, it has fallen among 18-29ers. In 2009, 15 percent of them maintained a personal blog, as did 14 percent of online teens. Both the younger demographics have experienced drops in blogging activity in the past few years — which I’d surmise is related to a migration to personal updates on places like Facebook.

* To be sure, there are always going to be fads and trends. For instance, virtual worlds are more popular with young teens, while young adults favor Twitter far more than other groups.

Maybe this is really just about near-native web usage, with the generation under 30 having grown up using the web. If that’s an accurate reading of the data, as young people age into the over-30 category all the usage habits across all ages will start to blend together.

Photo by Flickr user sdminor81.

Related research from GigaOM Pro (sub. req’d):

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