The verdict is in - social networking is good!
Written by Janet Swift   
Saturday, 27 August 2011

Two-thirds of adult internet users now say they use sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and when asked for a single word to describe how they feel about their experience of social networking "Good" is the most frequent choice.

The latest findings to emerge from the Pew Internet & American Life Project show that there has been a sustained increase in the use of social networking sites over the six years from 2005. In 2005 only 8% of internet-using adults in the US (5% of all adults in the US) used social networking sites (SNS) whereas this year  65% of those who use the internet use SNS, and this equates to 50% of all adults in the US.

The graph below also shows that SNS usage on any given day has increased from 2% to 43% of online adults.


(Click on graph to enlarge)


As the table below shows social networking is more popular with women  than with men. In fact Pew reports:

Young adult women ages 18-29 are the power users of social networking; fully 89% of those who are online use the sites overall and 69% do so on an average day.

It also points out:

As of May 2011, there are no significant differences in use of social networking sites based on race and ethnicity, household income, education level, or whether the internet user lives in an urban, suburban, or rural environment.


(Click on table to enlarge)

Although social networking is still most heavily used by the youngest adult age group this is the only group in which usage dropped in the 2011 survey, from a peak of 86% in 2010 to 83% this year and between 2009 and 2011 the proportion of 50-64 year olds (the "baby boomers") using SNS has more than doubled from 25% to 51%:


(Click on graph to enlarge)

The survey, conducted by phone in April and May this year with 2,277 adults aged 18 and older, also asked users for one word to describe the social networking experience. Many respondents came up with “addictive” or “addicting” as the first thing that came to their mind, others expressed frustration by responding “annoying,” “overwhelming,” “boring,” “confusing” and “overrated", but the majority chose positive adjective with "good being the most common response and “fun,” “great,” “interesting” and “convenient" also being used repeatedly:


The Pew Research graphic summarizing respondents' experiences using SNS


More information:

Pew Report on Social Networking 

Other news from Pew Research

More data on Smartphone use

E-Reader growth spurt


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Last Updated ( Saturday, 27 August 2011 )