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Facebook triumphs among Kiwi teens

Facebook is Kiwi teens’ favourite social networking tool by a big margin, according to early results of the national online survey CensusAtSchool.

A total of 84% of the first 1800 teenagers surveyed said they have a Facebook page, compared to 33% in the last CensusAtSchool, in 2009.

The early results of the biannual educational project, which runs from May 2 – June 10, also show how fast once-popular social networking sites can crash from favour. Just 27% of the 13 to 18-year-old students surveyed have a Bebo page (down from 63% in 2009) and 7% a MySpace page (down from 17% in 2009).

“The numbers show how quickly social networking sites can go from hero to zero among teenagers,” says CensusAtSchool co-director Rachel Cunliffe, a University of Auckland-trained statistician and owner of several internet enterprises. “Young people are early adopters and they’re also fickle – they’ll go where their friends are going. And, of course, that means that although Facebook has the top spot among New Zealand teenagers at the moment, there’s no certainty that it will stay there.”

Cunliffe was surprised to see that hype about the rapid spread of the Twitter short-messaging system isn’t matched by usage – just 20% of the teenagers had a Twitter account.

Supervised by more than 700 teachers, thousands of students aged between 7 and 18 (Year 5 to Year 13) are answering 31 online questions about themselves, from their arm-span measurement to how they travel to school, and even how many hours’ sleep they had the night before.

This year’s CensusAtSchool also asks whether students think the All Blacks will make the Rugby World Cup final – and if so, against which team. The 15-minute survey is available in English and Māori.

CensusAtSchool is hosted by the Department of Statistics at the University of Auckland in association with Statistics New Zealand and the Ministry of Education. This is the fifth time New Zealand has held CensusAtSchool, which is also run in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Japan, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States.

“CensusAtSchool is about showing pupils the value of statistics in everyday life,” says Cunliffe. “Students and teachers will get data back that they will analyse together in the classroom, and that will provide even more learning opportunities.

“Students will also end with a unique view of themselves – and we’ll all have an insight into New Zealand life for young people that we couldn’t get in any other way.”

For more information on schools participating and any other inquiries, please contact Rachel Cunliffe (CensusAtSchool co-director) on 027 3833 746 or visit