Nearly one-half (46%) of online adults post original photos and videos they themselves have created, and 41% curate photos and videos they find elsewhere on the Internet and post them on various photo-sharing sites, according to a study by Pew Research.

Overall, 56% of online adults conduct at least one such photo-sharing activity, and 32% conduct both types—often posting their content on social networking sites such as Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr.

For the first time, Pew researchers have polled Americans about their use of these relatively new social media sites.

Not surprisingly, younger online adults are more likely than their older counterparts to use Instagram and Tumbler, while online women are more likely than men to use Pinterest, Pew found.

Below, other findings from the study titled "Photos and Videos as Social Currency Online," issued by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project and Project for Excellence in Journalism.


Women are more likely than men to use Pinterest, a site that allows users to organize and share content from around the Web by "pinning" photos and images into "pinboards" that are organized by category or theme:

  • Nearly one in five (19%) online women use Pinterest, compared with just 5% of online men.
  • Though the largest proportion of Pinterest users is age 18-29, the site attracts a wide range of age groups, including those age 30-49 (12%) and those age 50-64 (13%).


Younger adults are more likely than their older counterparts to use Instagram, a photo-sharing service built around a smartphone app that allows users to filter or tint photos they've taken and then share them with their networks:

  • 12% of online adults use Instagram, including 27% of those age 18-29.
  • Men and women use the site at nearly equal levels (11% and 12%, respectively), and users tend to skew toward higher income levels and some college education.


Younger adults are more likely than older ones to use Tumblr, the social blogging service that allows for easy sharing of various types of posts, including text, photos, quotes, links, music, and video:

  • 5% of online adults use Tumblr, including 11% of those age 18-29.
  • With its younger audiences, the site tends to attract adults with lower annual incomes.

Other Findings

Clearly, the rise of smartphones is a major part of the story because those phones have cameras built into them, making it easy to take and share self-made pictures online, Pew notes.

Also, the rise of social media, particularly YouTube and newer services like Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr, has made curating activities easier because they are organized for easy image and video-sharing.

Other Pew findings regarding US online adults:

  • 66% use Facebook.
  • 20% use LinkedIn.
  • 16% use Twitter.

About the data: Findings are based on a nationally representative phone survey of 1,005 adults (age 18+), August 2-5, 2012. The report was authored by Lee Rainie, Joanna Brenner, and Kristen Purcell, issued on September 13, 2012 and accessed on October 9, 2012.

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