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Teens Turn to Blogging in Rising Numbers
No Other Age Group Embracing the Phenomenon So Widely

By Lindsay Diokno
Maryland Newsline
Friday, March 31, 2006

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Ian Schwartz is into politics, and he's got the blog to prove it.

His site, Exposetheleft.com, links to news shows and newspaper articles. He writes about political pundits such as Sean Hannity and Chris Matthews. He follows Instapundit.com, the National Review's The Media Blog and Newsbusters.org.

But Schwartz, of Baltimore, doesn't fit the profile of most political bloggers. He is just 18 years old.

Schwartz and his blog are part of a growing trend among teenagers. According to the Web-based survey group Perseus Development Corp., teen blogging numbers are growing faster than those of any other age group.

Out of 10,000 blogs on 20 leading blog-creation sites, 52.8 percent in 2003 were posted by bloggers between the ages of 13 and 19, Perseus reports. In 2005, the teen blogger percentage had jumped to 58.3 percent.

A November 2005 Pew Internet & American Life Project study reported that 4 million youths between the ages of 12 and 17 had made a Web log -- or 19 percent of teen Internet users.

Andrew Bowen, a 19-year-old student at the University of Maryland, College Park, is more typical than Schwartz of the young bloggers. "I always thought I was a blog kind of guy, but I didn't actually make one until I was really bored one night last December," said Bowen, who created his work on the blog-creation site Blogger. "I generally put things on it that I find funny, or thought-provoking, or just worth mentioning," Bowen said.

Most teen blogs follow a diary, or "chronicle" format – their entries detail day-to-day events and their personal thoughts.

Many are serious or humorous, but most are intensely personal.

Type phrases like "teen" and "blog" into a search engine, and a plethora of these journal-like personal blogs shows up.

For example, "Andrea," a 16-year-old Pennsylvanian with two blogs, posts song lyrics and "yo momma" jokes.

"Chiquina," a self-identified "freshman" in the Philippines, has posts that run from a wish list of things she wants to the reforestation of Leyte, a province in the Philippines.

Even Schwartz, who has been blogging since he was 15, didn’t start off as a political blogger. Like many teens, he started posting on a blog he found interesting; in his case, it was an online role-playing game blog.

He later created his own political blog to talk about something he’s interested in.

"I … didn't know – or even think about – writing a political blog until I started reading others," Schwartz said.

Many teens are finding their way into blogging through social network Web sites such as MySpace, where teens make up a large portion of the users. MySpace started its blog feature in 2003. Teens can post pictures, videos, music and podcasts with little to no prior knowledge of computer coding language.

There are even blogs that allow users to change the layout and background of their personal site. Firdamatic lets users from a variety of blog-creation sites design customized layouts by filling in a few forms.

Others, such as MySpaceProDesigns.com, give users ready-made backgrounds and layout templates.

The combination of new features to personalize blogs and the continuing desire by teens to keep journals will likely keep teen blogging from fading away soon.

Schwartz said he expects to continue posting even after high school, because his interest isn't waning in what he blogs about.

"I don't see why I would stop blogging after high school as the blog doesn’t pertain to high school," he said. "The '06 elections are coming up and soon after that, the '08."

Copyright 2006 University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism

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