Report: 85% Think Social Networks Are “Mostly Kind” Places, But 15% Have Ended Friendship Because Of Them


A new study from Pew Internet examined social media usage, demographics and the climate within social networking spaces (SNS).  A national phone survey was administered to active social networking adults across the United States as well as users aged 12-17 in conjunction with their parents.  The results?  The social networking climate is overly positive.


Of the respondents polled, 63% of men use social networking sites while 66% of women were active.  Not surprisingly the most active age group on SNS were 18-29 year-olds (87% of users) followed by 30-49 year-olds (68%), then 50-64 year olds (49%) and 65 year olds and over (29%).  From an ethnicity standpoint, 63% of white respondents were active on social networking sites compared to 70 of black respondents and 67% of Hispanics.


The most common social network among respondents is Facebook, as 87% of SNS users have a Facebook profile.  The next closest social network is MySpace (14% usage,) followed by Twitter (11% usage,) with LinkedIn (13% usage) bringing up the rear.  Google+ was not mentioned in this report (respondents polled between July 25th – August 26th, 2011).

The younger the user, the more engaged they are in social media.  The millennials lead all adults with 42% of users checking their accounts several times a day:

Overall 64% of online adults are active on SNS, accounting for half of the full US adult population.

The Social Climate

An overwhelming 85% of adult SNS users think that the networks are “mostly kind” environments.  Only 5% of the adult respondents thought that social networks contained “mostly unkind” users.  A few disparities do exist in these results.  White users reported more kindness than black users (88% to 77%,) suburban users reported more kindness than urban users (87% vs. 80%).  In addition, teen responses were drastically different as much more unkindness was reported:

The Good?

The overwhelming percentage of SNS users stated that they had positive experiences on the various networks.  The responses were not determined to be driven by demographic differences as all users reported the same levels of social media positivity.  Here’s a look at the stats from all adult SNS users:

  • 68% of adults had an experience that made them feel good about themselves on a social network.
  • 61% of adults felt closer to another person due to a social network.
However, teens had a slightly lower positive response.  On average teens trailed adults by about three percentage points when it came to positive interactions on social sites:

The Bad?

Of course all the interactions on social networking sites aren’t positive.  A low percentage of adult users have had negative experiences on SNS including:

  • 15% of adult SNS users terminated a friendship due to an event that transpired on a network.
  • 12% of social networking adults had an experience that resulted in a face-to-face argument or confrontation.
  • 3% of users had gotten into a physical fight from a social networking experience.
  • 11% of users had an experience on SNS that caused a problem with their family.
  • 13 of adult SNS users had another user act in a mean or cruel way towards them on the network in the past 12 months

While these overall numbers are rather low, teens typically see 2x the incidents that occur:


A common theme to the report was that even though teen experiences have been overly positive, they saw more adversity on networks than adults did.    Only 49% of adults reported seeing occasional nastiness on social networks while 88% of teens reported seeing mean or cruel behavior at some point.  Additionally, 29% Adults had also reported that they had never seen nastiness while just 11% of teens had never seen it.

For more information please see the full report from Pew Internet.

Related Topics: Channel: Strategy | Social Media Marketing | Statistics | Statistics: Social Media


About The Author: is the Director of Marketing for Cypress North, a company that specializes in social media and search marketing services and web-based application development. He has been in the Internet marketing industry for 6+ years and specializes in Social Media Marketing. You can also find Greg on Twitter (@gregfinn) or LinkedIn.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn

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