Pew thumbs up on adults and social networks

February 12, 2012

Adults generally find that social networks are positive places. — © shutterstockAdults generally find that social networks are positive places. — © shutterstockWASHINGTON, Feb 12 — Almost seven out of 10 users of social network sites in the US over the age of 17 say their online interactions make them feel good about themselves.

“The overall social and emotional climate of social networking sites (SNS) is a very positive one where adult users get personal rewards and satisfaction at far higher levels than they encounter anti-social people or have ill consequences from their encounters,” according to a study of the market analyst Pew Research Centre.

 Eighty-five per cent of adults who logged on to social network sites said the people they interacted with were mostly kind to them.

Close to 40 per cent of these adults said they frequently encountered members in their online community performing acts of generosity and helping others. A further 36 per cent said they sometimes saw others behaving generously while only 5 per cent said they never saw anyone being generous online.

While most adults enjoy their time online with others, they say there are also moments when the experience is ruined by bad behaviour.

“Some 49 per cent of SNS-using adults said they have seen mean or cruel behaviour displayed by others at least occasionally,” said Pew.

Fifteen per cent said they had a bad experience that resulted in them ending an online friendship, and 11 per cent said a bad online experience ended up causing problems within their family. 

Some SNS-using adults even took their bad experiences offline: 12 per cent said a bad online experience resulted in a face-to-face argument with someone, and 3 per cent ended up in a physical fight over something that was said or done online.

Overall, adults tended to feel more positive about their online experiences than teens. Adults were also more likely than teens to ignore aggressive or mean people online.

On average, 55 per cent of respondents said they checked in with a social network at least once a day.

A separate study by comScore, released on February 9, found that nine out of 10 Internet users in the US visited a social network at least once a month. The study also revealed that social networking accounted for one out of every six minutes spent online — the majority of which was spent on Facebook.

Pew’s study conducted on February 9 tracked the responses of 2,260 adults from July 25 to August 26, 2011, as part of its Internet & American Life Project. — Relaxnews