Ofcom’s Research Report on Social Networking (dated 2 April 2008), which used a mix of quantitative and qualitative research methods.
SNS (like MySpace, Facebook or Bebo) are of course most popular with teenagers and younger adults. Over one fifth (22%) of adult internet users aged 16+ and
almost half (49%) of children aged 8-17 who use the internet have set up their own profile on a social networking site. For adults, the likelihood of setting up a profile is highest among 16-24 year olds (54%) and decreases with age.
The researchers „detected“ or better, construed distinct groups of social networkers, based on their attitudes and behaviours:
• Alpha Socialisers – (a minority) people who used sites in intense short bursts to flirt, meet new people, and be entertained – the majority is male, under 25.
• Attention Seekers – (some) teens to 35+, especially mothers resp. females who craved attention and comments from others, often by posting photos and customising their profiles.,
• Followers – (many) people who joined sites to keep up with what their peers were doing.
• Faithfuls – (many 20+) people who typically used social networking sites to rekindle old friendships, often from school or university.
• Functionals – (a minority ) people (older males) who tended to be single-minded in using sites for a particular purpose.
Even the non-users of social networking sites fall into distinct groups, based on their reasons for not using social network sites.
• people concerned about safety online, in particular making personal details available online.
• Technically inexperienced – people who lack confidence in using the internet and computers.
• Intellectual rejecters – people who have no interest in social networking sites and see them as a waste of time.
The report or a pdf-presentation can be downloaded here
If you don’t want to read, there’s a video on the findings.
I’m trying to decide where I would place myself within these groups. The main problem is that I’m a member of 2 SNS, but don’t frequent them very often, if so, mainly for research purposes. Does this make me a rejecter? On the other hand, I see how my students often make good use of the sites, they make friends, exchange information, work on their profiles, opinions and values, so basically, I don’t see them as a waste.
Thanks to Gustavo G for the network poster via flickr.