Bebo out as girls flock to Twit­ter

Central Leader - - EDUCATION& TRAINING -

Teenage school­girls are flock­ing to Twit­ter, ac­cord­ing to early re­sults from the ed­u­ca­tional pro­ject Cen­susAtS­chool.

A lit­tle over one in three teenage school­girls (37 per cent) has re­ported hav­ing a Twit­ter ac­count, up from one in four (23 per cent) in 2011.

Cen­susAtS­chool co-di­rec­tor Rachel Cun­liffe says the find­ings mir­ror over­seas trends around Twit­ter, which was launched in 2006 and al­lows its users to send and read ‘tweets’ of up to 140 char­ac­ters each.

‘‘The Pew In­ter­net and Amer­i­can Life Pro­ject in the US has also found much higher use of Twit­ter by teen girls than teen boys,’’ she says.

‘‘One ex­pla­na­tion for this could be teenage girls are gen­er­ally more so­cial and more com­mu­nica­tive than teenage boys, and use Twit­ter to keep in touch with their friends.’’

Cen­susAtS­chool, which started on May 6 and runs un­til June 15, is a bi­en­nial on­line pro­ject that brings statis­tics to life in the class­room.

Su­per­vised by teach­ers, stu­dents aged be­tween 10 and 18 (Year 5 to Year 13) an­swer 32 ques­tions about their lives, many of them in­volv­ing prac­ti­cal ac­tiv­i­ties such as weigh­ing and mea­sur­ing, then an­a­lyse the re­sults in class.

This year, more than 1236 teach­ers from 565 schools all over New Zealand are run­ning CAS in their class­rooms, and the so­cial me­dia re­sults are al­ways of great in­ter­est to their stu­dents.

The so­cial me­dia snap­shot comes from the first 10,000 re­spon­dents – and it seems their love af­fair with Face­book has peaked.

Since the last Cen­susAtS­chool, in 2011, there has been no real change in the num­ber of teenage school stu­dents with Face­book ac­counts.

In 2009, just 33 per cent of teens had a Face­book page, but by 2011, that fig­ure had risen to 83 per cent.

This year, 83 per cent say they had a Face­book page.

‘‘There comes a point where it’s not re­ally pos­si­ble to grow the num­bers any­more,’’ Rachel says.

‘‘Face­book up­take among school stu­dents may well be at its limit. It will be fas­ci­nat­ing to how those num­bers have changed when we run the next Cen­susAtS­chool in 2015.’’

But the fu­ture looks shakier for the on­ce­pop­u­lar so­cial net­works Bebo and MyS­pace – they ap­pear to be slip­ping from New Zealand teens’ lives al­to­gether.

In 2009, 63 per cent of teenage school stu­dents had a Bebo page, but by 2011 that had fallen to 27 per cent, and this year reached a new low of 11 per cent.

The mu­sic-fo­cused MyS­pace has had an even worse tra­jec­tory, slip­ping from 17 per cent in 2009 to seven per cent in 2011.

This year, de­spite a Jan­uary re­launch, MyS­pace hit just six per cent.

‘‘Teens are early adopters of new so­cial net­works and apps. They are quite happy to start afresh, set­ting up and build­ing new pro­files,’’ Rachel says.

‘‘Many teens don’t know what Bebo is now, yet it was the dom­i­nant so­cial net­work only a few years ago.’’

Cen­susAtS­chool, now in its sixth edi­tion, is a col­lab­o­ra­tive pro­ject in­volv­ing teach­ers, the Univer­sity of Auck­land’s Depart­ment of Statis­tics, Statis­tics New Zealand and the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion.

It is part of an in­ter­na­tional ef­fort to boost sta­tis­ti­cal ca­pa­bil­ity among young peo­ple, and is car­ried out in Aus­tralia, the United King­dom, Canada, the US, Ja­pan and South Africa.

The coun­tries share some ques­tions so com­par­isons can be made, but the ma­jor­ity re­flect New Zealand stu­dents’ in­ter­ests.

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