Young adults rule the social web

15 Jan 2009

If you are aged between 18 and 24, chances are you will have at least one account on the myriad of social-networking sites such as Facebook or MySpace. In fact, a new study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 75pc of young adults who use the net on a regular basis have a social-networking profile.

This high number of connected youngsters is not so much of a surprise as a sharp contrast to the 24-35 age group: only 57pc of this generation — the first to embrace the web – are members of such sites.

While sites such as Bebo and MySpace were designed to appeal to youngsters and music fans the Facebook phenomenon – although it began as a college networking site – really caught fire when it spread to the office space, leading to the much maligned culture of ‘social notworking’ amongst this age group.

However, this study was carried out in the US where the overall population consists of a huger percentage of adults than teens, so the 57pc of adults on these sites accounts for a larger number than the total number of teens.

What is interesting is that the study showed that MySpace is still by far the most popular: 50pc of all adults surveyed said there social networking site of choice was MySpace ,while 22pc named Facebook.

Breaking down the demographics leads to more interesting statistics: MySpace users were more likely to be female, have an average age of 27 and be either Hispanic or black with a high-school educations and some college experience.

Facebook, on the other hand, had an average age of 26, while the average user of professional networking site LinkedIn is more likely to be white, male and have a college degree.

And if you thought the main purpose of social networking was to keep in touch with friends and make new ones, it was found that 20pc of users are there mainly to flirt in cyberspace while 28pc wanted to promote themselves or their business.

How often do we return to this these sites? Around 37pc of us go back for a daily fix, while a mere 15pc only make a weekly habit of it.

Favourite sites aside, many people have multiple online profiles but the study found rather than having a few different identities on one site, people are beginning to use different sites for different purposes – one for work, one for friends and, perhaps most interestingly, different profiles to express different sides to their personality.

By Marie Boran