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Social Media: things we should know

By Roxana Colman-Herak
CSKT GBG-Mindfulness Program Manager

As we grow, learn, share and interact with each other through social media or other venues—sometimes it is worthwhile to reflect on what we share, who we share with and. The irony of instant messaging and social media is that users can’t recant on what is said once a message is sent or posted. That information stays out there in an infinite storage bank and can be accessed randomly and thoroughly in any given instant.

Facebook is the dominant social networking platform, used by 57 percent of all American adults and 73 percent of all those ages 12-17 and its use is intensifying: 64 percent of Facebook users visit the site on a daily basis, up from 51 percent of users who were daily users in 2010. Among teens, the total number of users remains high, according to Pew Research Center surveys, and they are not abandoning the site. But focus group interviews suggest that teens’ relationship with Facebook is complicated and may be evolving.

New Pew Research Center survey findings show how people are using Facebook and what they like and dislike about the site.

Some users dislike certain aspects of Facebook, but fear of missing out on social activities (or “FOMO”) isn’t one of them.

Facebook User Dislikes
% Percent of Facebook users who strongly dislike
People sharing too much information about themselves
Others posting things about you or pictures of you without asking permission
Other people seeing posts or comments you didn't mean for them to see
Temptation Ol’ pressure 10 share too much Info about yourself
Pressure to post content that will be popular and get lots of comments/likes
Pressure to comment on content posted by others in your network
Seeing posts about social activities you were not included in
Pew Research Centers Internet Project survey, August 7 September 16 2013.

Their dislikes start with oversharing by friends and people posting one’s personal information (such as photos) without first asking permission are among the most common. Parents are especially protective of images of their children, as 57 percent of Facebook users with children under the age of 18 say that people posting pictures of their children without asking permission first is something they strongly dislike about using Facebook.

On the other hand, the “fear of missing out” phenomenon resonates with only a small proportion of the Facebook population. Just 5 percent of Facebook users strongly dislike the fact that Facebook allows them to see others taking part in social activities that they themselves were not included in—and 84 percent of users say that this aspect of Facebook life doesn’t bother them at all.

Reasons for Facebook use, men vs. women
Percent of male/female Facebook users who cite the following as major reasons why they use Facebook
Women are more likely than men to cite these as major reasons for using Facebook:
Seeing photos or videos3954
Sharing with many people at once4250
Seeing entertaining or funny posts3543
Learning about ways to help others2535
Receiving support from people in your network1629
Learning about ways to help others2535
Men and women are equally likely to cite these as major reasons for using Facebook:
Receiving updates or comments3939
Keeping up with news and current events3131
Getting feedback on content you have posted1617
Pew Research Centers Internet Project survey, August 7-September 16, 2013.

Women and men often have varying reasons for why they use Facebook – but everything starts with sharing and laughs.

Users say they especially appreciate photos and videos from friends (47 percent say that’s a major reason they use the site), the ability to share with many people at once (46 percent cite that as a major reason), updates from others (39 percent cite that), and humorous content (39 percent). Other aspects of Facebook—such as keeping up with news, or receiving support from the people in one’s network—appeal to a more modest audience of users. Men and women sometimes vary in their reasons for using the site.

Half of all adult Facebook users have more than 200 friends in their network.

Facebook users differ greatly when it comes to the number of friends in their networks:
   • 39 percent of adult Facebook users have between 1 and 100 Facebook friends
   • 23 percent have 101-250 friends
   • 20 percent have 251-500 friends
   • 15 percent have more than 500 friends

Among adult Facebook users, the average (mean) number of friends is 338, and the median (midpoint) number of friends is 200. In other words, half of all Facebook users have more than 200 friends, and half have less than 200.

Younger users tend to have significantly larger friend networks than older users: 27 percent of 18-29 year old Facebook users have more than 500 friends in their network, while 72 percent of users age 65+ have 100 friends or fewer.

12 percent of Facebook users say that someone has asked them to “unfriend” a person in their network.

Younger users are more likely to have experienced this than older users: 19 percent of 18-29 year old Facebook users have had someone ask them to remove a friend from their network (compared with 10 percent of 30-49 year olds, 7 percent of 50-64 year olds, and 5 percent of those 65 and older).

These “friend removal” requests tend to come primarily from other friends (35 percent), or from current (23 percent) or former (12 percent) spouses or romantic partners. Some 38 percent of those who received this type of request say that they were asked to remove a friend from their Facebook network, while 22 percent were asked to unfriend a former romantic partner.

Facebook users “like” their friends’ content and comment on photos relatively frequently, but most don’t change their own status that often.

When asked about the frequency with which they engage in certain behaviors on the site, Facebook users tend to point towards “liking” content that others have posted and commenting on photos as the activities they engage in most often. On the other hand, most users change or update their own status only occasionally:
   • 44 percent of Facebook users “like” content posted by their friends at least once a day, with 29 percent doing so several times per day.
   • 31 percent comment on other people’s photos on a daily basis, with 15 percent doing so several times per day.
   • 19 percent send private Facebook messages to their friends on a daily basis, with 10 percent sending these messages multiple times per day.
   • 10 percent change or update their own status on Facebook on a daily basis, with 4 percent updating their status several times per day. Some 25 percent of Facebook users say that they never change or update their own Facebook status.

Half of Internet users who do not use Facebook themselves live with someone who does.

Many non-Facebook users still have some familiarity with the site through family members. Among Internet users who do not use Facebook themselves, 52 percent say that someone else in their household has a Facebook account. In many instances, these may be parents who do not use Facebook but live with a child who does. Fully 66 percent of parents with a child living at home who do not use Facebook themselves say that someone in their household has a Facebook account.

In addition, some 24 percent of Facebook non-adopters who live with an account holder say that they look at photos or posts on that person’s account.

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