December 15, 2010

Global Publics Embrace Social Networking


A new report from the Pew Research Center finds that computer and cell phone usage are up around the world

Although still a relatively young technology, social networking is already a global phenomenon.  A 22-nation survey from the Pew Global Attitudes Project finds that in regions around the world, people who use the internet are using it for social networking.  It is especially popular in the United States, where 46% say they use sites like Facebook and MySpace, but other nations are not far behind.  At least four-in-ten adults in Poland (43%), Britain (43%) and South Korea (40%) use such sites (respondents were given examples of sites that are popular in their country).  And at least a third engage in social networking in France (36%), Spain (34%), Russia (33%) and Brazil (33%).

While involvement in social networking is relatively low in many less economically developed nations, this is largely due to the fact that many in those countries do not go online, rather than disinterest in social networking.  When people use the internet in middle and low income countries, they tend to participate in social networking.

The 22-nation survey, conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project from April 7 to May 8, finds notable age gaps on this issue in every country polled, with young people much more likely to use social networking sites.  In 12 nations, a majority of people younger than age 30 use these sites.  In contrast, there is no country in which even one-quarter of those age 50 and older participate in social networking.

The report also finds that other forms of technology are increasingly popular across the globe.  Cell phone ownership and computer usage have grown significantly over the last three years, and they have risen dramatically since 2002.  For instance, only 8% of Russians said they owned a cell phone in 2002, compared with 82% now.

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