Social Networking takes off with teens

The next generation is not only spending more time online but they have also developed a taste for social networking.

Nielsen/NetRatings announced that over a three-year period, the top sites among teens (ages 12-17) have shifted from those offering a selection of instant messaging buddy icons to those providing assistance with social networking profiles and page layouts.

The number 1 site among teens was Originalicons.com, with teens composing 77.6 percent of its unique audience. Buddy4u.com and Badass Buddy also made it into the top 10 sites among teens three years ago, with teens accounting for 73.5 and 66.6 percent of their September Web traffic, respectively.

Other popular sites among teens were Blunt Truth, a forum for sharing opinions on movies and music, and Teen People, a celebrity gossip magazine.

“It is not a surprise that teens are actively engaged in social networking sites like MySpace and YouTube,” said Ken Cassar, chief analyst, Nielsen//NetRatings.

“What is surprising, however, is the extent to which a wide array of supporting Web sites has developed in conjunction with these bigger, more well-known Web destinations. MySpace and YouTube have spawned a vibrant online ecosystem.”

This relatively new phenomenon, social networking online, has spawned a whole array of services and businesses which are springing up to support this new trend.

In September of this year, sites offering tools to improve social networking profiles with song lyrics, pictures, quotes and layout designs won out with those ages 12-17. PLyrics.com ranked No. 1 among teens, who made up 68.4 percent of its unique audience.

Notably, nine out of the top 10 teen sites either offered content or tools for social networking site profiles, or were social networking sites themselves. Snapvine, which offers a voice player for social networking sites, ranked No. 2, with a 67.6 percent teen audience, followed by WhateverLife.com, with 60.6 percent.

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Social Networking takes off with teens