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Posts Tagged ‘Pew Internet in American Life Project’

Who uses Twitter on which devices? Pew knows

Thursday, May 31st, 2012
Twitter bird

Just call me Larry.

Some 15% of online adults use Twitter as of February 2012, and 8% do so on a typical day.

Although overall Twitter usage has nearly doubled since the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project  first asked a stand-alone Twitter question in November 2010, the 15% of online adults who use Twitter as of early 2012 is similar to the 13% of such adults who did so in May 2011.

At the same time, the proportion of online adults who use Twitter on a typical day has doubled since May 2011 and has quadrupled since late 2010—at that point just 2% of online adultsused Twitter on a typical day.

The rise of smartphones might account for some of the uptick in usage because smartphone users are particularly likely to be using Twitter.

Twitter usage over time

Several demographic groups stand out as having high rates of Twitter usage relative to their peers:

  • African-Americans — Black internet users continue to use Twitter at high rates. More than one quarter of online African-Americans (28%) use Twitter, with 13% doing so on a typical day.
  • Young adults — One quarter (26%) of internet users ages 18-29 use Twitter, nearly double the rate for those ages 30-49. Among the youngest internet users (those ages 18-24), fully 31% are Twitter users.
  • Urban and suburban residents — Residents of urban and suburban areas are significantly more likely to use Twitter than their rural counterparts.

Who uses Twitter 2

Twitter use among 18-24 year olds increased dramatically between May 2011 and February 2012, both overall and on a “typical day” basis

Twitter use within the overall population remained steady over the last year, and usage rates within most major demographic groups changed little over the same time period. The youngest adults (those between the ages of 18 and 24) are the primary exception to this trend—nearly one third of internet users in this age group now use Twitter, up from 18% in May of 2011 and 16% in late 2010.3 Twitter use by those in their mid-20s to mid-40s largely leveled off in the last year after roughly doubling between late 2010 and mid 2011.

Twitter adoption by age

In addition to increasing on an overall basis, the proportion of young internet users who use Twitter on a typical day also doubled over the last year. Fully one in five internet users ages 18-24 (20%) now use Twitter on a typical day, up from 9% in May 2011.

Notably, “typical day” usage among slightly older adults (those ages 25-34) also doubled—from 5% of such internet users in May 2011 to 11% in February 2012—even as overall usage levels within this group remained stable over that time period.

Typical day Twitter use by age

Twitter and the “Mobile Difference”

We can also see this relationship between youth, mobility and Twitter use when looking specifically at Twitter use on mobile phones. Twitter usage is highly correlated with the use of mobile technologies, especially smartphones. One in five smartphone owners (20%) are Twitter users, with 13% using the service on a typical day. By contrast, internet users who own more basic mobile phones are roughly half as likely to use Twitter overall (9% do so), and just 3% of these more basic phone owners are “typical day” users.

Indeed, this correlation between Twitter adoption and smartphone ownership may help to explain the recent growth in Twitter usage among young adults. Those ages 18-24 are not just the fastest growing group when it comes to Twitter adoption over the last year—they also experienced the largest increase in smartphone ownership of any demographic group over the same time period.

In addition to asking internet users whether they ever use Twitter (regardless of the platform or device used) in our February 2012 tracking survey, we included a question in our April 2012 tracking survey in which we asked adult cell phone owners if they use Twitter specifically on their mobile phones. Overall we found that 9% of cell owners use Twitter on their phones, with 5% doing so on a typical day.4

As with general Twitter usage, smartphone owners are much more likely than average to use Twitter on their phones (overall 16% of smartphone owners use Twitter on their phones, and 10% do so on a typical day).

As with our general Twitter usage findings, cell owners ages 18-24 are more likely than older cell owners to use Twitter within the context of their mobile devices—fully one in five 18-24 year old cell owners (22%) use Twitter on their phones, and 15% do so on a typical day. African Americans and Latinos (both of whom have high rates of smartphone ownership) also stand out as heavy mobile Twitter users.

Who uses Twitter on a cell phone

Gamification will be more embedded in daily life by 2020

Friday, May 18th, 2012

By Allan Maurer

gamification word cloudWay back in the late 1980s, I wrote an article for Science Digest magazine about the US Army’s use of video games to train tank crews and gunners. Since then, “gamification,” the use of game-like elements in education, training, marketing, wellness and even scientific discovery, has advanced steadily.

You’re likely to see more and more use of “gamification” in the digital world, a new survey by the Pew Internet in American Life Project suggests.

Gamification is interactive digital design that brings out a user’s competitive instincts and often uses rewards such as points, payments, badges, discounts and achievement status to drive action.

Gamification is one of the top trends for 2012, according to Deloitte, and Gartner predicts that 50 percent of corporate innovation will be “gamified” by 2015, the Pew report notes.

Serious gaming becoming embedded in every day life

Gartner says, “Serious gaming simulations and game mechanics such as leaderboards, achievements, and skill-based learning are becoming embedded in day-to-day business processes, driving adoption, performance, and engagement.”

Digital games generated $25 billion in sales in 2010, and their popularity is considered to be a driver of the adoption of elements of gamification in many Internet pursuits.

A primary driver, says the Pew study, ” is the rapid uptake of social networks, now used by 70% of American Internet users, where reward and status elements are embedded in implicit and explicit forms in people’s interactions in their engagement in online communities. Game elements and competition are interspersed throughout the platforms that have made social networks like Facebook and Twitter popular.”

Gamification helps solve scientific riddles

It also points out that Gamification is not  just about status, community building, and marketing. Game-like approaches to education and problem-solving are rolling out in new ways. To cite one prominent example, researchers at the University of Washington made headlines in 2011 with their game Foldit.

It generated a crowd-sourced discovery of the mystery of how a key protein may help cure HIV. The game drew 46,000 participants whose gameplay took just 10 days to solve a problem scientists had been working on for 15 years.

Similarly, over at the Galaxy Zoo, you can help scientists classify galaxies – something the human eye does better than computers – as they explore the universe via the Hubble telescope.

Non-digital and digital real-world games based on scenarios and problem-solving have been around for a while, but it wasn’t until recent years that the label “serious game” was applied to this type of activity.

Wide range of uses for “serious games”

Pew notes that a “serious gaming” movement has arisen to apply gaming techniques to such realms as military and corporate and first-responder training programs, civilization and environmental ecology simulations, K-12 educational programs on subjects like math and history and the sciences, news events and public policy campaigns, problem-solving strategies in the natural sciences, and even physical exercise programs.

Universities such as NC State even offer courses in “serious games.”

PewInternetPew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center asked a highly engaged set of respondants if the use of gamification,  game mechanics, feedback loops, and rewards to spur interaction and boost engagement, buy-in, loyalty, fun, and/or learning continue to gain ground and be implemented in many new ways in people’s digital lives between now and 2020?

More than half (53 percent) believe that by 2020, there will have been significant advances in the adoption and use of gamification. It will be making waves on the communications scene and will have been implemented in many new ways for education, health, work, and other aspects of human connection and it will play a role in the everyday activities of many of the people who are actively using communications networks in their daily lives.

However, 42 percent think that while game use and game-like structures will remain an important segment of the communications scene and will have been adopted in new ways, the gamification of other aspects of communications will not really have advanced much beyond being an interesting development implemented occasionally by some segments of the population in some circumstances.

Some of the responses Pew received include:

“People will increasingly expect game elements in a wide range of activities. Game-development tools will enable most people to gamify many aspects of life and work, in digital, physical, and blended environments.” – Cathy Cavanaugh, associate professor of educational technology, University of Florida.

“The development of ‘serious games’ applied productively to a wide scope of human activities will accelerate simply because playing is more fun than working.” –Mike Liebhold, senior researcher and distinguished fellow at The Institute for the Future.

Not everyone thinks gamification has a rosy future, however:

“For all of the reasons that critics of game theory have identified over the years regarding its inability to capture the full range of human motivations, perceptions, cognitions, and practices, I believe there will be efforts to gamify much of what we do, but that much of that will just come and go as fads.” – Sandra Braman, professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and an expert on information policy.

For the complete report see: Pew Gamification survey

Nearly three-quarters of Americans get location info on smartphones

Friday, May 11th, 2012

PewInternetA new report from the Pew Internet in American Life Project finds that 74% of smartphone owners use their phone to get real-time location-based information, and 18% use a geosocial service to “check in” to certain locations or share their location with friends.

Over the past year, smartphone ownership among American adults has risen from 35% of adults in 2011 to 46% in 2012. This means that the overall proportion of U.S. adults who get location-based information has almost doubled over that time period, from 23% in May 2011 to 41% in February 2012. The percentage of adults who use geosocial services like Foursquare has likewise risen from 4% in 2011 to 10% in 2012.


Location based info and geosocial services_smartphone owners

Meanwhile, more smartphone owners are using geosocial services like Foursquare or Gowalla1 to “check in” to certain places and share their location with friends. Some 18% of smartphone owners use geosocial services on their phones, up from 12% in 2011. This translates to 10% of all adults as of February 2012, up from 4% in May 2011.

Smartphone owner geosocial and location based information use

Some 75% of smartphone owners use at least one of these services, as shown in the following table. Not surprisingly, nearly all of the smartphone owners who use geosocial services (93%) also report getting location-based directions and information.

Who uses geosocial and location based services

Among smartphone owners, younger adults are more likely than older adults to use both location-based information services and geosocial “check-in” services. However, while smartphone owners in lower-income households are less likely2 to use location-based information services, they are more likely to use geosocial services like Foursquare.

Mobile devices creating a culture of real-time information seekers

Monday, May 7th, 2012


Do you use your mobile phone to seek real-time information such as looking up sports scores, seeking traffic or transit info, or coordinate meetings?

More and more, cell phones, smart phones and other mobile devices are coming out of pockets and purses to find real-time information or help solve a problem, resolve and argument, or decide where to have lunch.

The mobile device user’s ability to access data immediately through apps and web browsers and through contact with their social networks is creating a new culture of real-time information seekers and problem solvers, says a new survey by the Pew  Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.

The project has documentedsome of the ways that people perform just-in-time services with their cell phones.

Some 70% of all cell phone owners and 86% of smartphone owners have used their phones in the previous 30 days to perform at least one of the following activities:

  • Coordinate a meeting or get-together — 41% of cell phone owners have done this in the past 30 days.
  • Solve an unexpected problem that they or someone else had encountered — 35% have used their phones to do this in the past 30 days.
  • Decide whether to visit a business, such as a restaurant — 30% have used their phone to do this in the past 30 days.
  • Find information to help settle an argument they were having — 27% haveused their phone to get information for that reason in the past 30 days.
  • Look up a score of a sporting event — 23% have used their phone to do that in the past 30 days.
  • Get up-to-the-minute traffic or public transit information to find the fastest way to get somewhere — 20% have used their phone to get that kind of information in the past 30 days.
  • Get help in an emergency situation — 19% have used their phone to do that in the past 30 days.

Overall, these “just-in-time” cell users—defined as anyone who has done one or more of the above activities using their phone in the preceding 30 days—amount to 62% of the entire adult population.

Widespread adoption of mobile payment systems expected by 2020

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Imagining the InternetWithin the next decade, smart-device swiping will have gained mainstream acceptance as a method of payment and could largely replace cash and credit cards for most online and in-store purchases by smartphone and tablet owners, according to a new survey of technology experts and stakeholders.

Many of the people surveyed by Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center and the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project said that the security, convenience and other benefits of “mobile wallet” systems will lead to widespread adoption of these technologies for everyday purchases by 2020.

Others—including some who are generally positive about the future of mobile payments—expect this process to unfold relatively slowly due to a combination of privacy fears, a desire for anonymous payments, demographic inertia, a lack of infrastructure to support widespread adoption, and resistance from those with a financial stake in the existing payment structure.

Here at the TechJournal, we recently interviewed an e-commerce expert for a top firm and he said once mobile payments are the norm, digital commerce will explode. So this is probably the next crucial step in the increasingly important world of e-commerce and mobile commerce.

As always with these Pew reports, the full text is worth reading. Here are a few excerpts:

A number of financial services and technology firms have set their sights on integrating mobile devices into the broader, multi-trillion-dollar retail economy. As a result, the infrastructure and tools for safe, reliable mobile purchasing has been advancing rapidly in recent years.

These mobile payment and transaction solutions currently take a number of forms. Some allow merchants and businesses to accept “on the go” credit card payments from customers using a special card reader that plugs into a smartphone or tablet computer.

Others facilitate direct person-to-person financial transfers using mobile devices—either by physically touching phones or exchanging electronic credentials such as a phone number or email address.

Google Wallet

Other solutions go even further, placing mobile phones at the center of users’ financial lives as an all-in-one payment device, identification system, coupon book and financial planner. In late 2011, Google launched Google Wallet in partnership with Citibank and MasterCard. Based on a technology known as near-field communication (NFC), Google Wallet allows users to store payment information in the cloud and pay for goods at participating retailers by tapping their phone at the point of purchase.

Another consortium (including Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Visa, American Express, Discover and MasterCard) will be piloting a similar NFC-based mobile payment system known as ISIS starting in select cities in mid-2012. PayPal and Visa have also announced plans for mobile wallet systems, and many analysts predict that Apple will announce its own virtual wallet service in the near future.

For under 40 news enthusiasts, the Internet is preferred source

Friday, April 13th, 2012

newspapersNearly three quarters of American adults (72%) say they follow local news closely “most of the time, whether or not something important is happening.”

On the whole, these local news enthusiasts are more wedded to their newspapers than others, relying on them for much of their local news and a full third (32%) feeling it would have a major impact on their ability to get the information they want if their local paper vanished.

Yet, younger local news followers differ from their older counterparts in some important ways, including less reliance on local papers, potentially signaling changes to come in the local news environment.

As a group, local news enthusiasts are more likely than others to prefer newspapers for almost all of 16 topics asked about in the survey—including crime, local politics, community events, arts and culture, local schools, taxes, government activity, restaurants, other local business, housing issues, job openings, and local zoning issues.

While this seems to be positive news for local newspapers, in many cases the reliance on newspapers is heaviest among local news enthusiasts age 40 and older, while younger local news followers rely more heavily on other sources.

Internet preferred by under 40 demographic

\Specifically, among local news enthusiasts under age 40, the internet is the preferred source for eight of the 16 topics asked about, including:

  • ·         Local restaurants, clubs and bars
  • ·         Other local businesses
  • ·         Schools and education
  • ·         Local politics
  • ·         Jobs
  • ·         Housing
  • ·         Arts and cultural events
  • ·         Community or neighborhood events

These are among the main findings in a January 2011 nationally-representative phone survey of 2,251 adults by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and Internet & American Life Project, produced in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

“On one hand, the study shows a continuing reliance on local newspapers among a substantial group of adults who like to know what’s happening in their community,” said Kristen Purcell, Pew Internet associate director for research and one of the authors of the report. “Yet equally important is the fact that for younger adults who like to stay tuned in to their communities, the local newspaper is generally not the go-to source.”

The study shows that younger local news enthusiasts rely on a wider variety of sources for their local news each week than their older counterparts, and are much more likely to use a combination of traditional, online and mobile sources to get news and information about their community.

“The youngest local news consumers have more tools in their local news toolkit,” notes Carolyn Miller, a research consultant who co-authored the report.  “They rely on a wider range of sources than older local news consumers, including mobile, social networking sites, search engines, and the websites of local newspapers and television stations.”

Other key findings in the report:

  • ·         Overall, local news enthusiasts skew female, older, African-American, and politically conservative when compared with other adults.
  • ·         While older local news enthusiasts are particularly likely to follow weather, politics, crime, traffic, taxes, local government activity, social services and zoning, younger local news followers are more likely to consume information about job openings and local restaurants, bars and clubs.
  • ·         Local news enthusiasts age 18-39 are much more digitally connected than both older local news enthusiasts and adults who do not follow local news closely, using the internet, cell phones, social networking sites, Twitter, and geolocation services at higher rates than these other groups.
  • ·         Younger local news enthusiasts are also significantly more likely to participate in the digital local news environment, engaging in activities such as sharing links to local news stories, commenting on local news pieces, and posting local news on social networking sites.

Nearly half of Americans own smartphones, Pew tells you who

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

PewInternetNearly half (46%) of American adults are smartphone owners as of February 2012, an increase of 11 percentage points over the 35% of Americans who owned a smartphone last May.

  • 45% of cell owners say that their phone is a smartphone, up from 33% in May 2011
  • 49% of cell owners say that their phone operates on a smartphone platformcommon to the US market, up from 39% in May 2011

Taken together, just over half of cell owners (53%) said yes to one or both of these questions and are classified as smartphone owners. Since 88% of US adults are now cell phone owners, that means that a total of 46% of all American adults are smartphone users.

Two in five adults (41%) own a cell phone that is not a smartphone, meaning that smartphone owners are now more prevalent within the overall population than owners of more basic mobile phones.


As smartphone ownership has grown over the last year, there has been a corresponding shift in the specific types of phones that Americans report owning:

  • 20% of cell owners now describe their phone as an Android device, up from 15% in May 2011
  • 19% of cell owners now describe their phone as an iPhone, up from 10% in May 2011
  • 6% of cell owners now describe the phone as a Blackberry, down from 10% in May 2011

The proportion of cell owners describing their phone as a Windows (2%) or Palm (1%) device is unchanged since the last time we asked this question in May 2011.

Smartphone ownership has increased across a wide range of demographic groups

Nearly every major demographic group—men and women, younger and middle-aged adults, urban and rural residents, the wealthy and the less well-off—experienced a notable uptick in smartphone penetration over the last year, and overall adoption levels are at 60% or more within several cohorts, such as college graduates, 18-35 year olds and those with an annual household income of $75,000 or more.

Although this overall increase in smartphone ownership is relatively wide-spread, several groups saw modest or non-existent growth in the last year. Chief among these are seniors, as just 13% of those ages 65 and older now own a smartphone.

This is far below the national average of 46%, and is largely unchanged from the 11% of seniors who were classified as smartphone owners in 2011. Similarly, smartphone adoption among those without a high school diploma grew by a relatively modest seven percentage points over the last year, and overall adoption rates for this group continue to be roughly half of the national average (25% of those without a high school diploma currently are smartphone owners).

African-Americans and Latinos also exhibited modest changes in smartphone adoption between our 2011 and 2012 surveys. However, in contrast to those groups, both African-Americans and Latinos have overall adoption rates that are comparable to the national average for all Americans (smartphone penetration is 49% in each case, just higher than the national average of 46%).

As we found in our previous study of smartphone adoption, young adults tend to have higher-than-average levels of smartphone ownership regardless of income or educational attainment, while for older adults smartphone ownership tends to be relatively uncommon across the board—but especially so for less educated and affluent seniors.

Among 18-29 year olds there is a 14-point difference in smartphone ownership rates between those earning less than $30,000 per year and those earning more than $30,000 per year (and smartphone ownership even among lower-income young adults is well above the national average).

By contract, for those 65 and older, there is a 22-point difference between these income cohorts (and just 5% of low-income seniors are smartphone users).

Similarly, smartphone ownership decreases dramatically with age even among adults with similar levels of education. However, younger adults with a high school diploma or less are significantly more likely to own a smartphone than even those seniors who have attended college.

Social network users more active in pruning and managing accounts

Friday, February 24th, 2012

PewInternetSocial network users are becoming more active in pruning and managing their accounts. Women and younger users tend to unfriend more than others.

About two-thirds of internet users use social networking sites (SNS) and all the major metrics for profile management are up, compared to 2009: 63% of them have deleted people from their “friends” lists, up from 56% in 2009; 44% have deleted comments made by others on their profile; and 37% have removed their names from photos that were tagged to identify them.

Some 67% of women who maintain a profile say they have deleted people from their network, compared with 58% of men. Likewise, young adults are more active unfrienders when compared with older users.


A majority of social network site users – 58% – restrict access to their profiles and women are significantly more likely to choose private settings.

More than half of social networking site users (58%) say their main profile is set to private so that only friends can see it; 19% set their profile to partially private so that friends of friends can view it; and 20% say their main profile is set to be completely public. Women who use SNS are more likely than men to set the highest restrictions (67% vs. 48%).

Half of SNS users say they have some difficulty in managing privacy controls, but just 2% say it is “very difficult” to use the controls. Those with the most education report the most trouble.

In all, 48% of social media users report some level of difficulty in managing the privacy controls on their profile, while 49% say that it is “not difficult at all.” Very few users (2%) describe their experiences as “very difficult,” while 16% say they are “somewhat difficult” and another 30% say the controls are “not too difficult” to manage.

Social media users who are college graduates are significantly more likely than those with lower levels of education to say that they experience some difficulty in managing the privacy controls on their profiles. 

11% of SNS users have posted content they regret.

Male profile owners are almost twice as likely as female profile owners to profess regret for posting content (15% vs. 8%).  Young adults are also more prone to say they regret some of their social media postings; 15% of profile owners ages 18-29 say they have posted content they later regret, compared with just 5% of profile owners ages 50 and older.

Social networking climate largely positive, but a third of users had bad experiences

Thursday, February 9th, 2012


Have you had bad experiences on Facebook or other social networks? Several of our friends temporarily departed Facebook after users stalked them with threats, but on the other hand, another managed to raise money to pay members of an orchestra doing a Mahler concert solely from Facebook friends.

The overall social and emotional climate of social networking sites (SNS) is a very positive one where adult users get personal rewards and satisfactions at far higher levels than they encounter anti-social people or have ill consequences from their encounters.

A nationally representative phone survey of American adults finds that:

  • 85% of SNS-using adults say that their experience on the sites is that people are mostly kind, compared with 5% who say people they observe on the sites are mostly unkind and another 5% who say their answer depends on the situation.
  • 68% of SNS users said they had an experience that made them feel good about themselves.
  • 61% had experiences that made them feel closer to another person. (Many said they had both experiences.)
  • 39% of SNS-using adults say they frequently see acts of generosity by other SNS users and another 36% say they sometimes see others behaving generously and helpfully. By comparison, 18% of SNS-using adults say they see helpful behavior “only once in a while” and 5% say they never see generosity exhibited by others on social networking sites.

At the same time, notable proportions of SNS users do witness bad behavior on those sites and nearly a third have experienced some negative outcomes from their experiences on social networking sites.

Some 49% of SNS-using adults said they have seen mean or cruel behavior displayed by others at least occasionally. And 26% said they had experienced at least one of the bad outcomes that were queried in the survey.

Those bad outcomes were:

  • 15% of adult SNS users said they had an experience on the site that ended their friendship with someone.
  • 12% of adult SNS users had an experience that resulted in a face-to-face argument or confrontation with someone.
  • 11% of adult SNS users had an experience on the site that caused a problem with their family.
  • 3% of SNS-using adults said they had gotten into a physical fight with someone based on an experience they had on the site.
  • 3% of adult SNS users said their use of the site had gotten them in trouble at work because of something that happened on the site.

In addition, 13% of adult SNS users said that someone had acted in a mean or cruel way towards them on a social networking site in the past 12 months.

Adults are generally more positive and less negative than teens about the behavior of others and their own experiences on social networking sites.This survey of adults was conducted in order to compare adult experiences on social networking sites to teenagers’ experiences. The Pew Internet Project reported the teen findings in November 2011.1

As a rule, more adults than teens reported positive results on SNS. For instance, a higher proportion of adults than teens say their experience is that people are mostly kind on social networking sites.

And significantly smaller proportions of adults have had bad outcomes based on their SNS use such as confrontations, lost friendships, family strife, and fights. Overall, the two surveys show that 41% of SNS-using teens have had at least one of the bad experiences we queried, compared with 26% of the SNS-using adults.

negative outcomes from sns use

When they see mean or aggressive behavior on social networking sites, adults are more likely than teens to ignore it and not get involved.Compared with teen SNS users, adults are somewhat more likely to stand back, not get involved, and ignore the offensive behavior. For instance, 45% of adult SNS users who have witnessed problems say they frequently ignore offensive behavior online, compared with 35% of SNS-using teens who say they frequently ignore offensive behavior.

Some 34% of adult SNS users say they never confront the person being offensive, compared with 21% of SNS-using teens who never take that step. Some 29% of adults who have witnessed problems never defend the person or group being attacked, compared with 19% of teens who never take that action.

At the same time, adults who have seen harassment on SNS are a bit less likely than teens to say they join in the harassment that they see occurring on social networking sites.

Some 19% of teen SNS users said they at least occasionally join in the mean and offensive behavior that is being directed at another SNS user, compared with 15% of adults who say they join in at least occasionally.

Interestingly, there is a split when it comes to the behavior of men and women when they see a people acting meanly on a social networking site. Men are more likely to ignore a problem they see on a social networking site and women are more likely to respond.

  • 26% of SNS-using women will frequently tell a person to stop attacking someone on a social networking site, but only 19% of SNS-using men will do that frequently. At the same time, 41% of men say they never tell someone to stop harassing another person on a social networking site, while only 29% of women say they never take action when they see a problem unfolding.
  • Similarly, 28% of SNS-using women say they frequently defend a person or group that is being harassed or insulted, while only 19% say they will frequently do so. At the same time, 33% of SNS-using men say they never defend a person or group that is under attack on a social networking site, compared with 25% of women who say they never defend someone under attack.

Minorities, women, parents, and Millennials are most likely to witness offensive material on social networking sites.

Asked how frequently they see language, images or humor on SNS that is offensive, 73% of SNS-using adults said they encountered such offensive content or language only once in a while or never.  There were several groups, though, that were more likely to encounter such material:

  • 42% of black SNS users said they frequently or sometimes saw language, images or humor on SNS that they found offensive, compared with 22% of white SNS users. In addition, 33% of Hispanic SNS users said they encountered such material that often, notably higher than whites.
  • 34% of Millennial generation SNS users – those ages 18-34 – said they frequently or sometimes saw language, images or humor on SNS that they found offensive, compared with 17% of SNS users in GenX (those ages 35-46). Even smaller percentages of SNS-using Baby Boomers and retirees said they had encountered such material.
  • 29% of women SNS users said they frequently or sometimes saw language, images or humor on SNS that they found offensive, compared with 22% of men.
  • 29% of SNS users who are parents with minor children said they frequently or sometimes saw language, images or humor on SNS that they found offensive, compared with 24% of nonparents.
 –additional comments are by TechJournal Editor, Allan Maurer. (Allan at TechJournalSouth dot com).

Facebook users can reach an average of 150,000 via friends

Friday, February 3rd, 2012


Facebook gives average users an incredible opportunity to reach a mass audience, according to the latest study by the Pew Internet in American Life Project. It says the average user can reach up to 150,000, and a median user can connect to 31,000 others.

It also found that most Facebook users receive more from their Facebook friends than they give, according to a new study that for the first time combines server logs of Facebook activity with survey data to explore the structure of Facebook friendship networks and measures of social well-being.

These data were then matched with survey responses. And the new findings show that over a one-month period:

  • 40% of Facebook users in our sample made a friend request, but 63% received at least one request
  • Users in our sample pressed the like button next to friends’ content an average of 14 times, but had their content “liked” an average of 20 times
  • Users sent 9 personal messages, but received 12
  • 12% of users tagged a friend in a photo, but 35% were themselves tagged in a photo

“The explanation for this pattern is fascinating for a couple of reasons,” noted Prof. Keith Hampton, the lead author of the Pew Internet report, Why most Facebook users get more than they give.

“First, it turns out there are segments of Facebook power users who contribute much more content than the typical user. Most Facebook users are moderately active over a one-month time period, so highly active power users skew the average.

Second, these power users constitute about 20%-30% of Facebook users, but the striking thing is that there are different power users depending on the activity in question.

One group of power users dominates friending activity. Another dominates ‘liking’ activity. And yet another dominates photo tagging.”

Other findings:

  • Women do more status updates than men.
  • Users average 7 new friends a month
  • Few people unfriend from feeds
  • There is little evidence of Facebook fatigue
  • Facebook users can reach an average of more than 150,000 Facebook users through their Facebook friends; the median user can reach about 31,000 others.
  • Tagging Facebook friends in photos is associated with knowing more people from diverse backgrounds and having more close relationships – off of Facebook.
  • A wide range of activities on Facebook are associated with attending political meetings.
  • Those who participate in Facebook groups are more likely to try to persuade someone to vote for a specific candidate

The full study offers details.

Tablet computer ownership nearly doubled during the holidays

Monday, January 23rd, 2012
Kindle Fire

At $199, we think the Kindle Fire is a good buy for the money

Did you receive a new tablet computer or an e-reader over the holidays? As Amazon introduced its Kindle Fire tablet, selling it at a slight loss, Barnes & Noble offered the competing Nook, and the iPad remained popular, the way we read and consumer media is changing.

The share of adults in the United States who own tablet computers nearly doubled from 10% to 19% between mid-December and early January and the same surge in growth also applied to e-book readers, which also jumped from 10% to 19% over the same time period.

The number of Americans owning at least one of these digital reading devices jumped from 18% in December to 29% in January.

gadget ownership over holidays

These findings are striking because they come after a period from mid-2011 into the autumn in which there was not much change in the ownership of tablets and e-book readers.

However, as the holiday gift-giving season approached the marketplace for both devices dramatically shifted.

In the tablet world, Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Barnes and Noble’s Nook Tablet were introduced at considerably cheaper prices than other tablets. In the e-book reader world, some versions of the Kindle and Nook and other readers fell well below $100.

We bought our Kindle Fire in November. It’s a great Internet surfing device, especially using the Pulse app, which arranges stories from Web sites you choose in menu bars with photos. It’s also handy for checking (though not answering) email, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Tumblr didn’t work so well for us.

Apps also make it an Internet radio, where we access favorite stations such as the French Classic and Jazz station, NPR feeds, and Pandora. We continue to prefer our regular e-ink Kindle for longer periods of reading. But overall, we think something a revolution in the way we play games, consumer media and read is well underway.

These results come from ongoing surveys by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project aimed at tracking growth in the ownership of both devices. A pre-holiday survey was conducted among 2,986 people age 16 and older between November 16 and December 21, 2011 and has a margin of error of +/- two percentage points.

The post-holiday data come from the combined results of two surveys – one conducted January 5-8 among 1,000 adults age 18 and older and another conducted January 12-15 of 1,008 adults. The combined surveys have a margin of error of +/- 2.4 percentage points.

 who owns tablets

The surge in ownership of tablet computers was especially notable among those with higher levels of education and those living in households earning more than $75,000. More than a third of those living in households earning more than $75,000 (36%) now own a tablet computer. And almost a third of those with college educations or higher (31%) own the devices. Additionally, those under age 50 saw a particularly significant leap in tablet ownership.

 who owns ereaders

The story with the growth in e-book readers was somewhat different from the story with tablet computers. Ownership of e-readers among women grew more than among men. Those with more education and higher incomes also lead the pack when it comes to e-book ownership, but the gap between them and others isn’t as dramatic. For instance, 19% of those in households earning $30,000-$50,000 have e-book readers. They are 12 percentage points behind those in households earning $75,000 or more in e-book reader ownership. The gap between those income levels on tablet ownership is 20 percentage points.

The Pew Internet Project is studying the ownership of both devices as part of its effort to understand how people consume media (text, video, and audio) on the devices, how people use them to access the internet, and how mobile connectivity has affected users.

This is part of the Project’s larger research agenda supported by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to look at how these devices are affecting people’s relationship with their local libraries, the services those libraries offer, and the general role of libraries in communities.

The pre-holiday survey conducted by the Project contained an oversample of owners of tablet computers and e-book readers. They were asked about their reading habits and their interactions with their libraries related to e-books and other digital content. The results of those findings will be contained in a report that will be released in the coming weeks.

Americans increasingly using the Internet just for fun

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

PewInternetIt’s no wonder casual online games, viral videos, and social networks are gaining such traction. They are all entertaining ways to pass time and a new survey from Pew Internet says that’s exactly what more than half of young adults want when they go online.

On any given day, 53% of all the young adults ages 18-29 go online for no particular reason except to have fun or to pass the time. Many of them go online in purposeful ways, as well, the new Pew survey shows.

The results of the survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project show that young adults’ use of the internet can at times be simply for the diversion it presents. Indeed, 81% of all young adults in this age cohort report they have used the internet for this reason at least occasionally.

Go online for fun and to pass the time on a typical day

These results come in the larger context that internet users of all ages are much more likely now than in the past to say they go online for no particular reason other than to pass the time or have fun. Some 58% of all adults (or 74% of all online adults) say they use the internet this way.\ And a third of all adults (34%) say they used the internet that way “yesterday” – or the day before Pew Internet reached them for the survey.1 Both figures are higher than in 2009 when we last asked this question and vastly higher than in the middle of the last decade.

Go online for fun and to pass the time

The upsurge in the number of people who use the internet as a destination for fun and no particular purpose has coincided with a variety of trends: the rise of broadband connections, the increasing use of video that is enabled by those high-speed connections, and the explosion of social networking.

All of those factors are strongly associated with people who use the internet for fun: If they have broadband, if they are online video consumers, if they use social media of any kind – especially social networking sites – they are much more likely than others to go online to pass the time.

The trend also suggests the degree to which the internet has become a competitor to all kinds of other leisure activities that are pursued on other kinds of media. Still, the competition is fuzzy because most other kinds of leisure pursuits that can be digitized – from reading to game playing to “watching TV” and “listening to radio” – are now available online.

Our question wording was simple and did not ask about any particular online “fun” activity, so people were allowed to answer that they were online for fun however they defined the term.

The increases in the number of people going online for fun on a typical day and in the general population of those who ever go online for fun came across all age groups and other demographic cohorts.

The most recent figures about those going online for fun come from a survey conducted from July 25 to August 26, 2011 among 2,260 adults ages 18 and over, including surveys in English and Spanish and on landline and cell phones.

The margin of error for the sample is plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Two-thirds of online adults are using social media

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

PewInternetTwo-thirds of online adults (66%) use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or LinkedIn, according to a new survey by Pew Internet in American Life Project.

These internet users say that connections with family members and friends (both new and old) are a primary consideration in their adoption of social media tools.

Roughly two thirds of social media users say that staying in touch with current friends and family members is a major reason they use these sites, while half say that connecting with old friends they’ve lost touch with is a major reason behind their use of these technologies.

Other factors play a much smaller role—14% of users say that connecting around a shared hobby or interest is a major reason they use social media, and 9% say that making new friends is equally important. Reading comments by public figures and finding potential romantic partners are cited as major factors by just 5% and 3% of social media users, respectively.

Staying in touch with family members is a major factor across a range of social media users, but it’s especially important to women

Those who say that keeping up with family members is a major consideration in their use of social networking sites are a demographically diverse group.  Two-thirds of all social media users cite family connections as a major reason for their use of these tools, and there are no major differences on this question in terms of age, income, education, race/ethnicity, parental status or place of residence.

The primary difference on this topic pertains to gender, as female social media users are more likely than male users to cite family connections as a major reason for using these sites (72% vs. 55%).

Staying in touch with current friends and reconnecting with old friends is most relevant for those under the age of 50

Compared with older adults, social media users under the age of 50 are especially likely to say that these tools help them keep up with existing friends and reconnect with old ones—roughly seven in ten users under the age of fifty say that staying in touch with current friends is a major reason they use online social platforms, and just over half say that connecting with old friends they’ve lost touch with is equally important.

Each of these is significantly higher than comparable figures for users ages 50 and older, although a relatively large number of older adults point to connections with friends as a major reason for their social networking site usage as well.

In addition to age, gender and parental status are linked with users’ attitudes towards social media as a way to maintain connections with friends. Women are slightly more likely than men to say that staying in touch with current friends is a major reason for using online social tools (70% vs. 63%) while parents are more likely than non-parents to say that connecting with old friends is a major reason behind their use of these sites (56% vs. 47%).

Compared with keeping tabs on current friends or old acquaintances, users place much less emphasis on using social platforms to make entirely new friends—just 9% say this is a major reason they use these sites, and 57% say that it is not a reason at all for their online social networking activity.

Groups that are more likely than average to use social media to make new friends include men (12% say that making new friends is a major reason for using these sites), African Americans (15%), those who have a high school diploma but have not attended college (16%) and those with an annual household income under $30,000 (18%).

Middle-aged and older adults place a relatively high value on social media as a tool to connect with others around a hobby and interest

Compared with maintaining or rekindling friendships, the ability to connect with others who share a hobby or interest using social media resonates with a slightly older cohort of users.  Sixteen percent of 30-49 year olds and 18% of 50-64 year olds cite connecting with others with common hobbies or interests as a major reason they use social networking sites, compared with 10% of 18-29 year olds.

Additionally, men are a bit more likely than women to use these sites to connect around a hobby or interest—56% of male users say that this is either a major or minor reason for their usage of these sites, compared with 44% of female users.

Connecting with public figures online is relatively popular among Twitter users, as well as African Americans and Latinos

Among social media users as a whole, the ability to read comments by public figures such as politicians, celebrities or athletes does not come into play as a major factor—fully three quarters of users say that this plays no role whatsoever in their decision to use these sites.

And while connecting with public figures has a relatively modest impact on users across a range of groups, both African Americans and Latinos show more interest in this activity than white users. One in ten black social media users (10%) and 11% of Latinos say that reading comments from public figures is a major reason for using these sites (compared with just 3% of white users).

Black and Latino social media users are also more likely to say that this is a minor factor (31% of blacks and 26% of Latinos say this, compared with 16% of whites).

Additionally, Twitter users are more interested in connecting with public figures than are social media users who do not use Twitter. One in ten Twitter users (11%) say that reading comments by politicians, celebrities or athletes is a major reason they use online social networks, and 30% say that this is a minor reason for their usage of these sites. Each of these is notably higher than the average for social media users who do not use Twitter (4% of these users say this is a major reason for using these sites, with 11% citing it as a minor reason).

Finding potential dating partners is at most a minor element of the social media experience

Very few social media users say that finding potential romantic partners or people to date plays a role in their use of these sites—overall more than eight in ten (84%) do not use these sites for that purpose at all.

Most of the remainder say that the prospect of romance is only a minor reason. Most differences on this question are quite modest—for example, men are twice as likely as women to say that finding potential dating or romantic partners is a minor reason for using online social platforms (17% vs. 9%) but overall few men say that this is a major factor (just 4% do so).

To be sure, many Americans are currently in relationships or may not otherwise be seeking dating or romantic partners in any venue (on social networking sites or otherwise). Among those users who identify themselves as single, separated or divorced, 6% say that finding romantic or dating partners is a major reason why they use these sites (an additional 27% say that this is a minor reason for their social media usage).

Readers and advertisers moving to digital media (infographic)

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011
Kindle Fire

A Kindle Fire tablet computer

The average American in 2004 spent about six minutes per day reading news online. Today that number has jumped to nearly 15 minutes. Factoring in phones, social networks, email and podcasts, more than 44 percent of Americans said they regularly get news from a digital source. With the advent of popular tablet computers and ereaders, that trend is only likely to accelerate.

The result? Advertising, like readers is moving to digital media.

A new infographic from examined the slide newspapers have taken the last few years as print journalists struggle to keep readers.



Appetite for phone apps nearly doubled, reflects increasing trend toward mobile

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

PewInternetThe share of adult cell phone owners who have downloaded an app to their phone nearly doubled in the past two years – rising from 22% in September 2009 to 38% in August 2011 – according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.

The share of U.S. adults who purchased a phone already equipped with apps also increased five percentage points in the past year, from 38% in May 2010 to 43% in the current survey.

When both groups are accounted for—those whose phones came equipped with apps and those who have downloaded their own—fully half of U.S. adult cell phone owners (50%) now have apps on their phones.  In May 2010, that figure stood at 43%.  Looking at all U.S. adults, 42% now have cell phones with apps.

In addition to examining mobile app use on cell phones, the current survey included questions about mobile app use on tablet computers.  It finds that among the 10% of adults who currently own a tablet, three-quarters (75%) report downloading apps to their tablet.

This translates to 8% of all U.S. adults.  The vast majority of tablet app downloaders (82%) have also downloaded apps to a cell phone, thus there is considerable overlap across the two groups.

More than a third downloaded apps overall

Overall, when cell and tablet app downloaders are combined, 34% of adults report downloading apps to one or both of these devices.

These findings are from a survey conducted from July 25-August 26 among 2,260 adults ages 18 and over, including surveys in English and Spanish and on both landline and cell phones. The margin of error for the total sample is plus or minus 2 percentage points.

An “app” is an end-user software application designed for a mobile device operating system, which extends that device’s capabilities. Apps were first introduced in early 2007 with the Apple iPhone.  Since then, they have become increasingly popular as other smartphone platforms and now tablet computers have embraced this form of accessing content. Indeed, app use has been a core feature in the broader move away from desktop computers toward mobile computing on handheld device.

App downloading is on the rise, but still concentrated in certain demographic groups

While the portion of adults downloading apps has grown since 2009, their demographic profile has not changed markedly, even with the addition of tablet computers to the mix.

SmartphonesApp downloading on cell phones remains concentrated among young adults, those with higher incomes and education levels, and those living in urban and suburban areas.  In May 2010, cell phone app downloaders were also disproportionately male when compared with the full U.S. adult population, but the gap between men and women has decreased.

Adults who download apps to tablets (the majority of whom are also cell phone app downloaders) skew slightly more female and older than cell phone app downloaders in general. They also tend to be from higher income households, and more highly educated.

Apps reflect a broader mobile trend

The growth in apps downloading is a reflection of the broader trend toward mobile devices the Pew Internet Project has identified over the past decade.  Americans have embraced mobile connectivity in the form of laptops, smartphones, tablet computers, and e-readers, while desktop computers have become less popular over time.

In February of 2010, Pew Internet reported for the first time that laptops had overtaken desktops in popularity among 18-29 year-olds, and in the current survey, laptop ownership (57%) has equaled desktop ownership (55%) for the full adult population.

Moreover, in May 2011, Pew data showed that 35% of adults in the U.S. owned smartphones.  Yet app downloading and use, while growing rapidly, is fairly low given the wide range of activities U.S. adults now engage in on their phones.  Because many of these activities require “apps,” one might expect the percent of cell owners who download apps to perform these popular tasks (such as email, playing games, listening to music) to be higher.

Adults regularly use only a portion of the apps they download

Having apps and using apps are not synonymous. In May 2010, Pew Internet data showed that only about two-thirds (68%) of adults who had apps on their phones reported actually using them.

The current survey asked those who reported having apps on a cell phone and/or tablet computer how many apps they use on each device at least once a week.  Among adults who have apps on their cell phone, roughly half (51%) use a handful of apps at least once a week, while 17% report using no apps on a regular basis.

Almost a third (31%) could be called app “power users” in that they use 6 or more apps on a weekly basis.  Among adults who have a tablet computer, 39% report using 6 or more apps on a weekly basis, while just 8% report using no apps regularly on the device.

Apps serve many purposes

Angry Birds

The Angry Birds game is a popular mobile app.

Market data on apps use and downloading indicate that games continue to be most popular and those that adults are most willing to pay for, followed by apps for weather, social networking, maps/navigation/search, music and news. (Rovio, maker of the Angry Birds game, says its bird vs. pig series has exceeded half a billion downloads).

The current survey asked app users if they had ever downloaded nine different types of apps.  The most popular among this list were those that provide regular updates about everyday information such as news, weather, sports, or stocks (74%), those that help people communicate with friends and family (67%) and those that help the user learn about something in which they are interested (64%).

Different types of apps appeal to different demographic groups.  For instance, African-Americans and young adults are more likely than others to download apps that help them communicate with friends and family.  And overall, men are more likely than women to download apps that help them make purchases and those that help with work-related tasks.

About half of app downloaders have paid for an app

The new survey finds that among adult cell phone users who have downloaded apps, just under half (46%) say they have paid for an app at some point; this is unchanged from the 47% of downloaders who said the same in the May 2010 survey.    

Among those in 2011 who report they have paid for an app, about half (52%) report that the highest dollar amount they have paid is $5 or less.  However, 17% have paid more than $20 for an app.  Among app downloaders, the groups most likely to pay for apps are men, adults age 30 and older, college graduates, adults with household incomes of $50,000 or more, and those living in urban communities.

Texting preferred mode of contact for many Americans

Monday, September 19th, 2011

PewInternetSome 83% of American adults own cell phones and three-quarters of them (73%) send and receive text messages. The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project asked those texters in a survey how they prefer to be contacted on their cell phone and 31% said they preferred texts to talking on the phone, while 53% said they preferred a voice call to a text message. Another 14% said the contact method they prefer depends on the situation.

Heavy text users are much more likely to prefer texting to talking. Some 55% of those who exchange more than 50 messages a day say they would rather get a text than a voice call.

Young adults most avid texters

Young adults are the most avid texters by a wide margin. Cell owners between the ages of 18 and 24 exchange an average of 109.5 messages on a normal day—that works out to more than 3,200 texts per month—and the typical or median cell owner in this age group sends or receives 50 messages per day (or 1500 messages per month).

Personally, we’ve noticed that some of our younger friends are nearly unobtainable through traditional means such as leaving a phone message and at times even email – if you don’t text them, they don’t respond.

Overall, the survey found that both text messaging and phone calling on cell phones have leveled off for the adult population as a whole. Text messaging users send or receive an average of 41.5 messages on a typical day, with the median user sending or receiving 10 texts daily – both figures are largely unchanged from what we reported in 2010. Similarly, cell owners make or receive an average of 12 calls on their cells per day, which is unchanged from 2010.

Should app developers put more focus on low income groups?

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011
Ken Eisner

Ken Eisner

By Allan Maurer

Not many tech products or services target the low income consumers, although it is a large and growing segment of the U.S. population. But says Ken Eisner, vice president for Policy and New Business Development at One Economy Corp., there are a number of reasons why the smartphone and app development industry should focus on that group.

Eisner plans to elaborate on this idea at the upcoming Digital East Conference at Tysons Corner, VA, Sept. 28-29.

For one thing, Eisner points out, “Some of these populations are expanding the use of a smartphone as their primary way to access the Internet.”

He notes that a recent Pew Internet study showed that 87 percent of African Americans and Latinos own smart or featurephones and are more likely to take advantage of a wide array of phone data functions. They send as many as 200 more text messages a month than whites consumers, for instance.

Maximize profits while doing social good

Corporations could maximize profits while doing social good by targeting these lower income groups, Eisner says. But right now, “There is no focus on this group. There is no pricing oriented to them. And there are not enough apps developed for it.

“Look at app stores, you’ll see things created specifically for this group. Apps to monitor diabetes medication, or how long you have to wait in line for a government servcie, or how to file for earned income credits. But too few are developed. Most developers in Silicon Valley don’t have much contact with this group. They have no knowledge of the need. They have the notion there are no business models to be built around it.”

To help remedy that situation, One Economy has developed the concept of apps for social good, with a focus on apps for health, education and civic participation created especially for this group, Eisner says.

In June, the company and AT&T disclosed winners of its first App for Good contest. The grand prize winner was Brendan McBride and his colleagues from New York City, for their application “Remás.” The team received $10,000 to continue the development of their “app” that enables users to find the lowest cost overseas money transfer option closest to their location.

Other winners and their prizes include:
• Ysiad Ferreiras won the $5,000 Health prize for his application, SnapFresh,
which helps food stamp recipients find healthy places that accept Supplemental
Assistance Nutrition Program (SNAP) payments (formally known as food
• David Simnick and Daniel Doll won the $5,000 Education prize for their webbased
application, TalkChalk, which leverages the power of social gaming and
networking and applies it to how students learn.
• Nick Jacobsen won the $5,000 Banking prize for his application, MobileSaver,
which is a mobile web portal for the management of an Individual Development
• Robert Hellestrae won the $4,000 Gaming prize for his app, Nutrition Missions,
which introducers users to delicious, nutrient dense foods by completing steps of
varying difficulty through fun and healthy “missions.”

Other opportunities

Others opportunities for marketing to the low income group would be apps around the jobs market, considering the current unemployment situation, says Eisner. “There is also a great opportunity on the banking side,” he adds. “Sometimes we need to take our cues from abroad, where mobile banking and mobile payements became a fantastic business.

Eisner plans to go into more detail about how to approach this group at Digital East.

“From the One Economy viewpoint, it’s better to hit some true needs (with smartphone app development). Instead of just looking at the top of the pyramid, try to solve bigger problems such as those banking and mobile payment issues or new forms of communication that focus funds at the lower end.”



More than a quarter of Americans use mobile or social location-based services

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

various smartphones More than a quarter (28%) of all American adults use mobile or social location-based services of some kind. This includes anyone who takes part in one or more of the following activities:

  • 28% of cell owners use phones to get directions or recommendations based on their current location.
  • A much smaller number (5% of cell owners) use their phones to check in to locations using geosocial services such as Foursquare or Gowalla. Smartphone owners are especially likely to use these services on their phones, with 12% doing so.
  • Nine percent of internet users set up social media services such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn so that their location is automatically included in their posts on those services.

Taken together, 28% of U.S. adults do at least one of these activities either on a computer or using their mobile phones—and many users do several of them. These figures come from a new national survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and represent Project’s most expansive study of location services to date.

Location-based services on cell phones

All adults

All cell owners

Smartphone owners

Use a geosocial (“check in”) service such as Foursquare or Gowalla




Get location-based directions and recommendations




Automatic location-tagging on social media

All adults

All internet users

Social media users

Use automatic location-tagging on posts




Source: The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, April 26 – May 22, 2011 Spring Tracking Survey. n=2,277 adults ages 18 and older, including 755 cell phone interviews. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish.

“Americans are not currently all that eager to share explicitly their location on social media sites, but they are taking advantage of their phones’ geolocation capabilities in other ways,” said Kathryn Zickuhr, Pew Internet Project research specialist and co-author of the report. “Smartphone owners are using their phones to get fast access to location-relevant information on-the-go.”

Several groups have higher-than-average rates of location service usage, including:

  • Smartphone owners – One in ten smartphone owners (12%) have used a geosocial (“check in”) service such as Foursquare or Gowalla, and 55% of smartphone owners have used a location-based information service to get directions, recommendations, or other information based on their current location.
  • Almost six in ten smartphone owners (58%) use at least one of these services. These are all well above the average for cell owners as a whole.
  • Younger users – Smartphone owners ages 18-49 are more likely than those over 50 to use either geosocial or location-based services on their phones. There are no significant differences among social media users by age in regard to automatic location-tagging.
  • Non-whites – Geosocial services and automatic location-tagging are most popular with minorities, continuing a trend of mobile connectivity that has been seen in other Pew Internet surveys.[1] Hispanics are the most active in these two activities, with a quarter (25%) of Latino smartphone owners using geosocial services and almost a third (31%) of Latino social media users enabling automatic location-tagging. However, though only 7% of white smartphone owners use geosocial services, 59% get location-based information on their phones, compared with 53% of blacks and 44% of Hispanics

Complete survey results.

Invitation to participate in Pew’s “The Future of the Internet” survey

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Imagining the Internet

You have probably read or heard about findings from one or more of the ongoing Pew Internet in American Life Project’s surveys on how we use the Internet and mobile media. Now, you can let Pew’s researchers know what you think in this year’s “Future of the Internet” survey.

The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center are conducting an ongoing conversation about the likely future evolution of the Internet.  This year’s new questions are tied to eight intriguing issues about the Internet and the potential future of education, money, our homes, and more.

Take the survey

This is a confidential survey. However, Pew encourages you to take credit for your thoughts if possible, as it lends much more credibility to the results and contributes to a more vibrant conversation.

If you know any thought leaders you believe would benefit from participating, we invite you to forward this invitation or simply share the survey address with them.

The Pew Internet Project and Imagining the Internet will issue a series of reports based on this survey starting around the turn of the year. Material from this survey will be added to the Elon University/Pew Internet site, Imagining the Internet . We will not use your personal information for any purpose other than this project. If you have any questions, please contact one of us.

This year’s new survey question set is the fifth in a series. Previous surveys 


Half of U.S. adults now use social networking sites

Friday, August 26th, 2011

PewInternetFully 65% of adult internet users now say they use a social networking site like MySpace, Facebook or LinkedIn, up from 61% one year ago. This marks the first time in Pew Internet surveys that 50% of all adults use social networking sites.

These figures come from a new national survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and mark a dramatic increase from the first time the Project surveyed about social networking sites in February of 2005. At that time just 8% of internet users or 5% of all adults said they used them.

Among internet users, social networking sites are most popular with women and young adults, but most of the growth over the past year came from adults over age 30. Looking at overall usage, wired seniors grew their ranks the most over the past year; 33% of those ages 65 and older now use the sites, compared with 26% one year ago.

As of May 2011:

  • 83% of internet users ages 18-29 use SNS, compared with
  • 70% of 30-49 year-olds
  • 51% of 50-64 year-olds, and
  • 33% of those ages 65 and older

Looking at usage on a typical day, 43% of online adults use social networking, up from 38% a year ago. Out of all the “daily” online activities that we ask about, only email (which 61% of internet users access on a typical day) and search engines (which 59% use on a typical day) are used more frequently than social networking tools.

The frequency of social networking site usage among young adult internet users was stable over the last year – 61% of online Americans in that age cohort now use SNS on a typical day, compared with 60% one year ago. However, among the Boomer-aged segment of internet users ages 50-64, SNS usage on a typical day grew a significant 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, a Senior Research Specialist with the Project 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,” said Madden.

In a separate question, when social networking users were asked for one word to describe their experiences using social networking sites, “good” was the most common response. Overall, positive responses far outweighed the negative and neutral words that were associated with social networking sites (more than half of the respondents used positive terms). Users repeatedly described their experiences as “fun,” “great,” “interesting” and “convenient.” Less common were superlatives such as “astounding,” “necessity,” and “empowering.”

“Social networking sites continue to cement their place as a significant part of mainstream online life,” said Kathryn Zickuhr, a Research Specialist and co-author of the report. “Even as some users find their experiences with social networking sites frustrating or overwhelming, most seem to view the services positively on the whole.”