Online Video Chatting–All the Rich White Girls Are Doing It

The digital divide in video chatting.

“Warning to parents,” Vator News cried out yesterday, “this is what your teen does online.” Exclamation points implied! So what’s the terrifying new teen pastime parents should be panicked about? According to Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, teenagers are, get this, using online video.

The actual study doesn’t adopt Vator New’s fear-mongering tone, except in the way that all sentences about the online activities of teenagers sound like they’re pulled from a “Nightline” investigation. “Nearly 2 in 5 online teens (37%) say they have video chatted with someone else using applications such as Skype, iChat or Googletalk.” Ahhhhh, lock up your kids.

The study looks at habits around shooting, sharing, and streaming, where the gender divide seems to have closed. “One major difference between now and 2006 is that online girls are just as likely these days to upload video as online boys,” say the researchers. Some interesting demographic trends also come into light when it comes to chatting.

Forty-two percent of girls who use the Internet say they have video-chatted, compared to 33 percent of boys. White teenagers who are online are more likely to video chat than Latino teenagers who use the Internet–41 percent versus 28 percent. Although the study notes, “There are no statistically significant differences between online black youth and either white or Latino youth in video chatting.”

Parents’s income and education are also a factor:

Online teens from families with the lowest levels of parental education – where a parent has not received a high school diploma – are much less likely than others to video chat with just 14% of teens in those families video chatting, compared with 40% of teens with parents with higher levels of education.

In a similar vein, teen internet users from higher income families are more likely to video chat than lower income teens. Of online teens from families earning $75,000 or more annually, 46% use video chat, while 32% of online teens from families earning under $50,000 annually use these services.

Teenagers who use Facebook and Twitter are also more inclined to video chat. The study says, 41 percent of Facebook users video chat compared to only 25 percent of non-users. With Twitter it’s 60 percent of users, compared with 33 percent of non-users.

In Vator News parlance, that probably makes social media a gateway drug, right?