Vaimoana Tapaleao is the New Zealand Herald's Pacific Affairs and People reporter.

Teen girls flock to short smart tweets

Auckland University student Beverly Fina'i has been tweeting for three years, since she was 17. Photo / Natalie Slade
Auckland University student Beverly Fina'i has been tweeting for three years, since she was 17. Photo / Natalie Slade

Social networking site Twitter is becoming increasingly popular with teenage girls.

A survey of teenagers from around the country found that 38 per cent of girls aged 13 to 18 had a Twitter account.

In 2011, that figure was 23 per cent. The survey was carried out bythe online education project CensusAtSchool.

Auckland University student Beverly Fina'i has had a Twitter account since she was 17.

The now 20-year-old said that like many of her friends, she became bored with Facebook and wanted to find out more about the Twitter hype.

"I think it's a little more sophisticated. With Twitter you get a limited number of characters and I like that. They're just short tweets about your day or whatever - not a whole story like people post on Facebook."

Miss Fina'i, who has about 240 followers on her site, said she had noticed more young people using Twitter exclusively.

"I have a Facebook page but I never go on it. I think more people are going to migrate to Twitter because it's easier and quicker."

The survey asked students a series of questions about their lives, practical activities such as weighing and measuring and their involvement on social networking sites.

There were responses from 11,813 primary, intermediate and high school students from around the country.

A total of 4187 girls aged 13 to 18 were surveyed, and 2393 teenage boys took part.

A co-director for CensusAtSchool, Rachel Cunliffe, said a recent survey in the US had also found that teenage girls were using Twitter more than boys - indicating it was a trend happening around the world.

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

The survey also showed that many students were accessing the internet on their cellphones - an advance that had started happening only over the past two years or so.

"It will be interesting to see what the results will be in the next two years.

"I think there will be more mobile apps and even more social networking done through cellphones, particular amongst teenagers."

Late last week, Twitter said it was adding a login verification programme to its site, to help boost security.

The announcement came a day after Conservative Party leader Colin Craig's Twitter account was hacked.

Today marks the start of Cyber Security Awareness Week in New Zealand.

NetSafe executive director Martin Cocker said young people - particularly girls - needed to remember that Twitter was a more public arena compared to other social networking sites such as Facebook, which had more privacy options available.

"When things go wrong on Twitter, it's usually because of something that they themselves have posted, as opposed to what someone else has done to them.

"So you have to always be careful about what you write."

- NZ Herald

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