How is Social Media Impacting Human Interaction?

In November 2010, the Pew Internet & American Life Project surveyed US social network users for the “Social Network Sites and Our Lives” report, released in June 2011. Here are a few highlights from the report:

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Facebook users are more trusting than others: Facebook user who uses the site multiple times per day is 43% more likely than other internet users and more than three times as likely as non-internet users to feel that most people can be trusted.

Facebook users have more close relationships: Someone who uses Facebook several times per day averages 9% more close, core ties in their overall social network compared with other internet users.

Facebook users get more social support than other people: Facebook user who uses the site multiple times per day tends to score an additional 5 points higher in total support, 5 points higher in emotional support, and 5 points higher in companionship, than internet users of similar demographic characteristics. For Facebook users, the additional boost is equivalent to about half the total support that the average American receives as a result of being married or cohabitating with a partner.

Facebook users are much more politically engaged than most people: Compared with other internet users, and users of other Social Network Site (SNS) platforms, a Facebook user who uses the site multiple times per day was an additional two and half times more likely to attend a political rally or meeting, 57% more likely to persuade someone on their vote, and an additional 43% more likely to have said they would vote.

31% of social network users are on Facebook several times a day: Additionally, 21% of respondents use the site about once a day. This is followed by Twitter, which 20% of social network users check several times a day and 13% use about once a day.

Consumers who use social networking sites several times a day or week, are also commenting on posts from friends just as often: The Pew study found that 26% of female Facebook users and 17% of male Facebook users comment on Facebook posts at least once a day. Further, the study found that 57% of female Facebook users and 48% of male Facebook users comment on posts at least once a week.

In this Pew Internet sample, 79% of American adults said they used the internet and nearly half of adults (47%), or 59% of internet users, say they use at least one of SNS: This is close to double the 26% of adults (34% of internet users) who used a SNS in 2008. Among other things, this means the average age of adult SNS users has shifted from 33 in 2008 to 38 in 2010. Over half of all adult SNS users are now over the age of 35. Some 56% of SNS users now are female.

Facebook dominates the SNS space in this survey: 92% of SNS users are on Facebook; 29% use MySpace, 18% used LinkedIn and 13% use Twitter.

There is considerable variance in the way people use various social networking sites: 52% of Facebook users and 33% of Twitter users engage with the platform daily, while only 7% of MySpace and 6% of LinkedIn users do the same.

On Facebook on an average day:

  • 15% of Facebook users update their own status.
  • 22% comment on another’s post or status.
  • 20% comment on another user’s photos.
  • 26% “Like” another user’s content.
  • 10% send another user a private message
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