The overall social and emotional climate of social networking sites (SNS) is a very positive one where adult users get personal rewards and satisfactions at far higher levels than they encounter anti-social people or have ill consequences from their encounters. A nationally representative phone survey of American adults finds that:
- 85% of SNS-using adults say that their experience on the sites is that people are mostly kind, compared with 5% who say people they observe on the sites are mostly unkind and another 5% who say their answer depends on the situation.
- 68% of SNS users said they had an experience that made them feel good about themselves.
- 61% had experiences that made them feel closer to another person. (Many said they had both experiences.)
- 39% of SNS-using adults say they frequently see acts of generosity by other SNS users and another 36% say they sometimes see others behaving generously and helpfully. By comparison, 18% of SNS-using adults say they see helpful behavior “only once in a while” and 5% say they never see generosity exhibited by others on social networking sites.
At the same time, notable proportions of SNS users do witness bad behavior on those sites and nearly a third have experienced some negative outcomes from their experiences on social networking sites. Some 49% of SNS-using adults said they have seen mean or cruel behavior displayed by others at least occasionally. And 26% said they had experienced at least one of the bad outcomes that were queried in the survey.
About the Survey
This report is based on the findings of a survey on Americans' use of the Internet. The results in this report are based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from July 25 to August 26, 2011, among a sample of 2,260 adults, age 18 and older. Telephone interviews were conducted in English and Spanish by landline (1,344) and cell phone (916, including 425 without a landline phone). For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling is plus or minus 2.3 percentage points.
This survey of adults was conducted in order to compare adult experiences on social networking sites to teenagers’ experiences. The Pew Internet Project reported the teen findings in November 2011. For more information, please see the About this study and Methodology sections of this report.