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Last Updated: Friday, 4 November 2005, 09:00 GMT
US youths use internet to create
Image of a young woman with a laptop
Young females are leading the blogging and remixing trend
A large swathe of young Americans use the web to create and share content as well as use other people's content for their own creations, says a report.

The Pew American and Internet Life Project research suggested that 12 to 17-year-olds look to web tools to share what they think and do online.

It also said they were much more likely than adults to read and have a weblog.

The report found that those who did have blogs were far more likely to remix and share music and images.

A third said they shared their own work - artwork, photos, stories, or video - with others online. Girls were more likely to do so than boys - 38% compared with 29%.

These teens would say that the companies should think of their relationship with teens as one where they are in a conversational partnership, rather than in a strict producer-consumer, arms-length relationship
Lee Rainie, Pew American and Internet Life Project

Nearly one in five who use the net said they used other people's images, audio or text to help make their own creations.

Interestingly, the teenagers who blogged (52%) were more likely to care about copyright issues than those who did not blog.

"These teens were born into a digital world where they expect to be able to create, consume, remix, and share material with each other and lots of strangers," Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet and American Life Project, told the BBC News website.

"In a very literal sense, the whole world's a stage for them."

Blogger youth

While debates around blogging in the adult online world centre around citizen reporting and journalism, teenage bloggers are much more concerned about using them to maintain and form relationships with peers.

The youth blogging trend is being spearheaded by girls, said the report. A quarter of them aged 15 to 17 who are online blog, compared to 15% of boys.

"For American teens, blogs are about self-expression, building relationships, and carving out a presence online," said Amanda Lenhart, co-author of the report, Teen Content Creators and Consumers.

Image of a young person using a laptop
69% bloggers (24% non-bloggers) shared own creations
35% bloggers (16% non-bloggers) remix other content for own creations
58% bloggers (14% non-bloggers) created personal webpage
"Most young people aren't spending their time at the highly-trafficked A-list blogs. They're reading and creating the 'long-tail' of blogs, personal sites read by networks of friends and family."

The research noted that those who blogged were also far more likely to use instant messaging, search for news, and buy online.

Young people were well used to downloading content such as music from lots of different sources on the web too, the report found.

Although about half knew it was wrong to do so, more than half (51%) said they downloaded music, compared to 18% of adults.

A third (31%) said they downloaded video so that they could watch them when they wanted. Boys were more likely to be the downloaders than girls, the research found.

Roughly half said they did not care about copyright issues when it came to downloading.

Although 30% of downloaders said they used peer-to-peer file-sharing networks to get their music, about 30% also said they used paid-for services such as iTunes.

Out of those young people who do download music and video from the web, 75% of them agreed that downloading and file-sharing was so easy that it was unrealistic to expect people not to do it.

"Today's online teens have grown up amidst the chaos of the digital copyright debate, and it shows," said Mary Madden, co-author of the report.

"At a time when social norms around digital content don't always appear to conform with the letter of the law, many teens are aware of the restrictions on copyrighted material, but believe it's still permissible to share some content for free."

Conversational relationship

The report reflects the immense tech-savviness of the upcoming generation of consumers and audiences.

It shows how young people are dissolving the traditional barriers between mainstream and homemade media. The message to content providers is stark.

Mainstream media is already responding to adults who want to have more power over their multimedia content, enjoying it when they want to, where they want to.

But traditional media companies needed to rethink their relationship with this powerful emerging audience, said Mr Rainie.

"These teens would say that the companies that want to provide them entertainment and knowledge should think of their relationship with teens as one where they are in a conversational partnership, rather than in a strict producer-consumer, arms-length relationship," he said.


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