Why Do Adults Use Social Media?

By:  Alec Hamilton

Facebook logo by keithjaynelson via Creative Commons.

Most, if not all of us use social media extensively and in some cases depend upon it.  However, who has stopped and asked “why do we use social media”?  What purpose does it serve?  Do we use it to network, stay in touch with relatives and friends, look for others with similar interests, or for romantic purposes?  Mashable.com recently conducted a study on the reasons why U.S. adults use social media sites and tools.

LinkedIn logo by Nebraska Library Commission via Creative Commons

According to the study, 66 percent of U.S. adults who are online use social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  Over 60 percent of those surveyed say that the primary reason they use social media is to stay in touch with family and friends, or reconnect with people they lost touch with.  Older uses are, according to the study ages 50-64, are more likely to use social media to make new friends or find those with similar interests.  Only a miniscule percentage claim romantic reasons for their social media use, while Twitter uses are much more likely to connect with celebrities or public figures than users of other social media.

Twitter logo by Adria Richards via Creative Commons

This survey not only gives insight into social media use, but also provides information to be used against social media detractors.  People who criticize social media and emphasize the need for face-to-face interaction, as well as those who claim today’s generation has become detract, should look at the statistics in the article.  The most common reason of social media use, staying connected with friends and family, can hardly be seen as being disconnected and actually allows for more interaction than if it was only limited to in-person and is the opposite of being detached.

Do you agree with these statistics?  What are your own reasons for using social media?  How valuable is your use of social media and what about those who say social media is a distraction and harming current generations?

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5 responses to “Why Do Adults Use Social Media?

  1. I suspect there is some self-report bias in the small numbers who say they use social media for romantic reasons. There’s a certain ick-factor to networking online with someone whose there to find dates (or get in someone else’s pants). Moreover, much of the stigma of online dating has worn off over the last few years, but it’s not completely gone.

  2. I agree with the statistics above. I too am on social media to stay connected with family and friends, as well as stay updated on the news. Its great that the “older users” are getting acquainted with Facebook and Twitter because it shows they are adapting to the changing times. Potentially it could be harmful to be without social media accounts because you may be left out of important decisions or updates.

  3. My reasons for using social media run the gamut. I keep in touch with friends, network, get news, and self-promote. I think there is value in it for everyone, especially older adults who are still working, for the professional side of it. I don’t think the statistics are that shocking. As technology advances, more and more people (even older adults) follow suit and jump on the bandwagon to keep up.

  4. I have become more and more disenchanted with social media. I understand all of its uses, but I mostly just use it to keep in contact with friends and share media. Twitter is nice for reading news and seeing cool media, but I’m not on it as much as other people. But I prefer to text and have full conversations than be limited to 140 characters. And as for social media’s benefits and detriments, it depends on how you use it. If you’re using it as a distraction and just a way to get away from homework, it can become a problem. But if you’re using it to connect people and share experiences, I think it’s worthwhile and a progressive step.

  5. Sometimes I think about this too. That is an interesting study that Mashable did. I wonder if social media and its ability to reunite people is going to change our social structure over time. Before, you would move on and meet new people or make an effort to stay close with certain people. Now, you can look up an old classmate and catch up on their life just by flipping through their pictures. My question is, will this change be good or bad for society? Connecting is easier and connections can now be longer-lasting thanks to social media, but does that mean we will be tied to the same people and not feel the need to branch out more?

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