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Video-chatting is popular among 12- to 17-year-olds, study finds

Pew Research Center says 37% of Internet users in that age range communicate using applications such as Skype, Google Talk and iChat.

May 04, 2012|Los Angeles Times

That stereotypical image of the American teenager glued to the phone needs an update.

A new study from the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project found that 37% of Internet users ages 12 to 17 participate in video chats using such applications as Skype, Google Talk and iChat — and girls are more likely to engage in them than boys.

"As more and more devices in our lives have video capabilities — as laptops and computers come with built-in video cameras, and many smartphones have cameras that allow for video chatting, for taking videos — teens are taking advantage of that," said Amanda Lenhart, senior research specialist with Pew Research Center.

Lenhart said teens enjoy socializing with friends and family, and video adds another dimension to these interactions. Teens whose families earned $75,000 or more annually were more likely to use video chat, the study found, as were those who frequently send text messages, use the Internet and access social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

More than 1 in 4 Internet users in this age group records and uploads video to the Web, according to the study. Females are just as likely to share videos as males.

The study also revealed something parents might find alarming: 13% of Internet-using teens stream video live for other people to watch online.

"We don't know anything about the content of what's being served," Lenhart said. "It's important not to necessarily go straight to the negative. It could be live-streaming an event, or a video blogger live-blogging your experience."

The findings were culled from a survey of 799 teens conducted from April 19 to July 14, 2011, in which the subjects were queried about a number of online behaviors.

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