Of the things Americans do online, few activities have received as much recent attention as the use of social networking sites (SNS). These sites, which include Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and Twitter are defined by their unique focus on allowing people to “friend” others and share content with other users. By some accounts, Americans spend more time on SNS than doing any other single online activity .
In this Pew Internet sample, 79% of American adults said they used the internet and nearly half of adults (47%), or 59% of internet users, say they use at least one of SNS. This is close to double the 26% of adults (34% of internet users) who used a SNS in 2008 .
Internet users of all ages are more likely to use a SNS today than they were in 2008. However, the increase in SNS use has been most pronounced among those who are over the age of 35. In 2008 only 18% of internet users 36 and older used a SNS, by 2010 48% of internet users over the age of 35 were using a SNS. This is about twice the growth experienced by internet users 18-35; 63% of whom used a SNS in 2008 compared with 80% in 2010. Among other things, this means the average age of adult-SNS users has shifted from 33 in 2008 to 38 in 2010. Over half of all adult SNS users are now over the age of 35.
As with the use of most social media, SNS users are disproportionately female (56%). Women also comprise the majority of email users (52% women), users of instant message (55%), bloggers (54%), and those who use a photo sharing service (58%).