Opinions

If You're Reading This You're Probably at Least 34 Yrs Old

Posted by Julie Roehm on March 2nd, 2011 at 5:22 pm

I was reading a New York Times article last week on the waning usage of blogs amongst young people. My first reaction, was "of course". Afterall, while I may be 40 years old, I can see a huge disparity in my propensity to read longer form prose than those half my age. The Times article summed it up quantitatively, "Blogs were once the outlet of choice for people who wanted to express themselves online. But with the rise of sites like Facebook and Twitter, they are losing their allure for many people - particularly the younger generation...The Internet and American Life Project at the Pew Research Center found that from 2006 to 2009, blogging among children ages 12 to 17 fell by half; now 14 percent of children those ages who use the Internet have blogs. Among 18-to-33-year-olds, the project said in a report last year, blogging dropped two percentage points in 2010 from two years earlier."

So what does this say about the younger generation? That they are more ADD than others? That they simply are too overwhelmed with the gaming, texting, tweeting, and reality show watching they are doing to sit still long enough to read an entire blog entry? What does that mean for school teachers who need them to actually read a, gasp, entire chapter?? On the flipside though, it could be that those of us that are, ahem, more mature, are simply TOO interested in waxing on and on and that in fact, the younger generation could teach us a thing or two about getting to the point, in 140 characters or less. This thinking is also somewhat validated by the New York Times article that cited statistics showing that the older we are the more we are adopting the blog. "While the younger generation is losing interest in blogging, people approaching middle age and older are sticking with it. Among 34-to-45-year-olds who use the Internet, the percentage who blog increased six points, to 16 percent, in 2010 from two years earlier, the Pew survey found. Blogging by 46-to-55-year-olds increased five percentage points, to 11 percent, while blogging among 65-to-73-year-olds rose two percentage points, to 8 percent."

It does seem crazy to me that blogs are already on their way out, they have afterall, really only been widely used for 5 - 7 years. But in the media world, that is pretty old-school. What does that mean for those of us in marketing? For me it means that blogs, like any other medium, are not a one size fits all solution. It also means that like other media, younger generations tend to be the first to try and the first to move on. But, I would also submit that these statistics are worth watching because as the younger generation ages, they may find a great deal of benefit in the details that blogs and longer form media provide. So perhaps this is a statistic that is static for age groups but not for the individuals themselves who in fact will go back to blogs over time.

I would like to think so anyway. I'd hate to think that our future will all be sound bites.

14 Responses to “If You're Reading This You're Probably at Least 34 Yrs Old”

  1. Nate White says:

    I fall into that 18-to-33 age group (I'm 28) and I can tell you my friends who actually have something to say still blog or use some form of it, like a post or link on Facebook followed by an extensive conversation. Sure, there's a lot of 140 character or less noise from this age group but that's only because, comparatively, the older age groups have a lot of people who just don't care to update the world on every mundane facet of their lives.

    Also, 2006-2009 saw MySpace on the wane, a site with a blog built in to your profile. As Facebook grew I can see the use of blogs (bloggership?) decrease just because it's not a part of the popular experience.

    The number of blogs might be going down, but I can see that mean the quality of blogs is going up.

    Nate

  2. John says:

    If you haven't yet read "The Shallows," which discusses this very phenomenon -- i.e. does the internet result in permanent shorter attention spans -- I would strongly suggest that you do. It's a great read:

    http://www.amazon.com/Shallows-Internet-Doing-Brains-ebook/dp/B003R7L90I/ref=dp_kinw_strp_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2

  3. Christopher says:

    I think it may be the difference in personal thought more than a trendline: while someone younger may think in a more "fluid" means, with smaller bits of information of rapidly changing data and communicate this way, while someone who is older can tend to think in a more "crystalized" form of thought, and communicate in a long form means to share large "blocks" of data.

    While there will be a difference for someone in their personal lives (to blog or not to blog), I think overall, regardless of age, unless someone is truly invested in a brand or product, they're not really going to take the time to read a long, involved blog that goes on and on.

    There are consumer help blogs, for example that provide rather short nuggets of information in a blog format, which are useful when someone is trying to find out how to contact a retailer to get a rebate or issue fixed.

    Perhaps going forward, the message will depend on the medium: I may Twit about a problem I have with a store, yet blog about it in the overall context of shopping for Mother's Day.

  4. Tom Garrett says:

    As a marketer who spends his entire time thinking about how to catch the attention of 18-24 year old males, and the father of a 17 year old, I think the "kids won't read long stuff" claim doesn't hold water. To support my position, I submit the Harry Potter series, and even the Twilight series. Each of these is vastly longer than 140 characters, and each were consumed ravenously by young people - those same young people for whom common wisdom amongst marketers is "they don't read!"

    I think that the more correct statement is that "they won't read things that aren't interesting, engaging and entertaining, and which don't resonate with them." And surprisingly, that applies to young people of all ages.

    The quality of content actually matters.

  5. Olivier Le Pord says:

    I am (already) 43 and there still able to read more than 2 lines :-)
    in the tech sector, blogs are still pretty successful to publish specialized info.
    Beyond this, as a parent of a five year old, this trend is a concern to me I don't want my daughter to communicate only by bumper stickers style of message.

  6. Adetutu says:

    Hello Julie,

    I totally agree with you. The blogging culture is gradually fading in many countries aside from in the US. Blogging can get boring after a while especially if it takes ages to think of what to write and actually write it to make enough sense.

  7. Don Irvine says:

    There will be exceptions to every rule and as Tom said the Potter and Twilight series shows that a young audience will gravitate to things they like. I know many younger people who started blogs and when you check them they haven't been updated in months if not longer. Writing a blog takes time and that is something that even though the younger generation has in spades they tend to waste it on less productive pursuits outside of work and school. Can you spell lazy? They want fast easy communication and Facebook and Twitter give them the sound bites they want.

    My 18-year old is all about texting and Facebook and couldn't write a blog post if he tried which I suspect is the case with many people his age. If he tried to blog it would probably look like a sms message which is something I can do without.

    Do we really need any more blogs?

  8. Jeff says:

    Agree with Tom and Olivier... Blogs are great to EXPRESS yourself, but what if nobody will LISTEN? ... may be the new"young" have come to realise that since they couldn't be bothered to read the lengthy nonsense of the slightly less recent "young", it wasn't worth writing in the first place...

  9. Vickie Ford says:

    I find this very interesting. I myself at a mere age of 25 falls into the category of which you state has dropped. Yet I am new to in this year. I feel like with most internet fad's they have there time in which they are popular and the times in which they are not. Myspace was the popular site for such a long time, then facebook took over I mean it even won awards at the oscars this year, now twitter appears to be the latest 'thing' that everyone is into. Blogging to myself is a way of expressing. However also having the need to be appreciated unless it takes off in a way that I like I too will more than likely find a new avenue to venture down. Prehaps it is the culture we have been brought up in now, a disposable lifestyle where if it doesn't fit in with us then in the bin it goes. A very interesting read though.

  10. understanding that Social Networks are a driver not the holder, being older than 34 I understant blogs will be like the container

  11. Bree says:

    I myself was going to make my own blog, but I still can't find a good theme to write about... Wav to mp3 converter http://wavtomp3converter.com/

  12. BarbaraBaker says:

    Guilty as charged lol, I'm exactly 30 something years old. Thank you for sharing this article here, it was so interesting to read it! I am about to start running my own blog but I don't really have time on that because I am working on my web site. Check it out here if you like http://freescreenrecorder.net/ it's free screen recorder, software program that can record everything that is going on on your screen.

  13. MartinaRamirez says:

    hello!
    I have my web site and I am currently trying to create its own blog. You can take a look at it here http://convertyoutubetomp4.net it's about free youtube to mp4 converter. Hope you guys like it as much as I do!

  14. Joel Mackey says:

    I think there is a lot of truth in this post and it still keeps showing up in demographic data. The one thing that is interesting though is that eye-balls in that age group are moving more towards twitter which is then a compilation of links to blogs. The other area I've seen this age group move towards is tumblr blogs which build in the social aspect that has become so common.

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