Not all online social networks are the same, according to new research released this week. Internet research firm, comScore Networks, said on Thursday that significant age differences exist between the user bases of these websites.

While the top social networking sites are typically viewed as directly competing with one another, our analysis demonstrates that each site occupies a slightly different niche, commented Jack Flanagan, executive vice president of comScore Media Metrix.

Contrary to popular belief, visitors to MySpace.com and Friendster.com generally attract older crowds. Over half of visitors to Myspace, comprising 68 percent of its total visits, are 25 and older, while Friendster attracts an even higher percentage at 71 percent.

Meanwhile, Xanga.com has a younger user profile, with 20 percent of its users in the 12-17 age range, about twice as high as that age segment's representation within the total Internet audience.

MySpace.com has the broadest appeal across age ranges, Facebook.com has created a niche among the college crowd, Friendster.com attracts a higher percentage of adults, and Xanga.com is most popular among younger teens, Flanagan continued.

There is a misconception that social networking is the exclusive domain of teenagers, but this analysis confirms that the appeal of social networking sites is far broader.

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