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BizReport : Internet : August 29, 2011

Pew: Half of all Americans now use social networks

Six years ago just 5% of all Americans said they used social sites such as LinkedIn or Facebook. New usage data from Pew Internet reveals just how ingrained social media has become in the day to day lives of many.

by Helen Leggatt

Pew Internet's latest figures on the use of social media by Americans reveal that, for the first time, 50% of all American adults (not just those that say they are online) use social sites.

Among younger American Internet users frequency of social networking use has remained constant over the past year rising from 60% to 61%. However, Boomers have upped their social media use considerably in the last year rising 60% (from 20% to 32%).

"The graying of social networking sites continues, but the oldest users are still far less likely to be making regular use of these tools," said Mary Madden, Senior Research Specialist and co-author of the report. "While seniors are testing the waters, many Baby Boomers are beginning to make a trip to the social media pool part of their daily routine."

When respondents to Pew's survey were asked to describe their social networking experiences using just one word the responses were, on the whole, positive. While a few were gushing in their praise of social networking using words such as "astounding", "necessity" and "empowering" the most common response was "good" along with "fun", "interesting", "great" and "convenient".

Despite the obvious benefits of social media to day to day life there are some who believe long term and sustained use can cause problems, particularly among younger users.

The National Center on Addition and Substance Abuse at Columbia University has recently released the findings of a survey that suggest American teens that use Facebook and other social media sites are five times more likely to use tobacco, three times more likely to use alcohol and twice as likely to use cannabis.

Tags: Facebook, Internet trend, Pew Internet, social media, social networking

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