Teen Social Networking Spawns Online Ecosystem

Teen Social Networking Spawns Online Ecosystem

By Antone Gonsalves
Thu Oct 12, 10:14 PM ET

Social networking, the hottest online trend among teenagers, has spawned an ecosystem of popular sites that offer tools to make communicating with friends more fun, a market research firm says.

Three years ago, the most popular sites among people 12 years old to 17 years old offered a selection of instant messaging buddy icons, as those sites rode the IM wave among teens, Nielsen/NetRatings said. The top teen sites of yesteryear included Originalicons.com, Buddy4u.com and Badass Buddy.

The popular sites today are those that offer tools to improve social-networking profiles with song lyrics, pictures, quotes and layout designs, Nielsen/NetRatings said. The most popular of those sites include PLyrics.com, Snapvine, which offers a voice player; and WhateverLife.com, which provides design layouts for the most popular social network MySpace.com.

"It is not a surprise that teens are actively engaged in social networking sites like MySpace and YouTube," Ken Cassar, chief analyst for Nielsen/NetRatings, said in a statement released this week. "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."

In addition, the firm found that kids are spending an increasing amount of time online. In September, children 2 years old to 11 years old spent an average of 9 hours and 24 minutes online, an increase of 41 percent over the same month a year ago.

Among teens, the time spent online was much higher, averaging 26 hours and 48 minutes in September, compared with 21 hours and 4 minutes three years ago.

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