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Age, Not Gender, Drives Most Social Media Use


Though Facebook enjoys broad adoption among users of all age groups and genders, other social media sites do not have such ubiquitous appeal, according to a survey from Netpop Research.

Facebook, in other words, is not the norm, Netpop found.

For example, Facebook's penetration among socially networked adults in the US is 90%, and the site enjoys roughly the same penetration among socially networked women age 18-34 (92%) and age 35+ (92%).

By contrast, YouTube's penetration among socially networked adults is 56%, but the video sharing site is far more popular among younger, social women (66%) and men (83%).

The use of Wikipedia and Twitter is also higher among younger, socially networked adults:

  • 65% of men and 48% of women age 18-34 use Wikipedia, compared with 40% of men and 28% of women age 35+.
  • 34% of young men and 24% of young women (24%) use Twitter, compared with 17% of men and 10% of women age 35+.

Below, additional findings from the report titled "Social Media Madness," by Netpop Research.

Younger Users Have Larger Networks of Friends

On average, younger Facebook users have two times more friends than older users, but there's virtually no difference between men and women: Younger women have roughly the same number of Facebook friends as younger men (305 vs. 304).

Similarly, older men and women (surprisingly) share nearly equal numbers of friends (139 vs. 133).

Allocation of Time Online Varies by Age

Some 146.5 million people in the US, or 79% of online adults, now use social networks, according to the report.

Among all socially networked adults, social media now accounts for 18% of time spent online, after entertainment (22%) and email (27%). However, those levels vary by age:

  • Young social networkers age 18-24 spend the most (25%) of their time online, and only 17% of their time with email.
  • Older social networkers age 35-44 spend 17% their time online with social networks, compared with 26% of their time with email.

Younger users also spend more time using social networks than older users.

For example, those age 18-24 spend twice as much time as those age 35-44 with social media (1 hour and 50 minutes vs. 54 minutes, per weekday).

Motivations for Using Social Media

A breakdown by age and gender accentuates the interest among older users, particularly women, in using social media to stay connected with others:

  • 42% of women use social media to stay-in-touch, compared with 34% of women age 18-34. 
  • Younger users (particularly men) use social media for a wider variety of reasons, particularly entertainment (28%).
  • Younger women spend the least amount of time (among the four age groups) using social media to find information (16%).

About the study: Findings from the Netpop Research study are based on an online survey of 2,365 socially networked adults in the US conducted in January 2012.

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