Kristen Nagy, an 18-year-old from Sparta, N.J., sends and receives 500 text messages a day. But she never uses Twitter, even though it publishes similar snippets of conversations and observations.
â€œI just think itâ€™s weird and I donâ€™t feel like everyone needs to know what Iâ€™m doing every second of my life,â€ she said.
Her reluctance to use Twitter, a feeling shared by others in her age group, has not doomed the microblogging service. Just 11 percent of its users are aged 12 to 17, according to comScore. Instead, Twitterâ€™s unparalleled explosion in popularity has been driven by a decidedly older group. That success has shattered a widely held belief that young people lead the way to popularizing innovations.
â€œThe traditional early-adopter model would say that teenagers or college students are really important to adoption,â€ said Andrew Lipsman, director of industry analysis at comScore. Teenagers, after all, drove the early growth of the social networks Facebook, MySpace and Friendster.
Twitter, however, has proved that â€œa site can take off in a different demographic than you expect and become very popular,â€ he said. â€œTwitter is defying the traditional model.â€
In fact, though teenagers fueled the early growth of social networks, today they account for 14 percent of MySpaceâ€™s users and only 9 percent of Facebookâ€™s. As the Web grows up, so do its users, and for many analysts, Twitterâ€™s success represents a new model for Internet success. The notion that children are essential to a new technologyâ€™s success has proved to be largely a myth.