Our latest report takes a quick but informative look at why Americans use social media:
Two-thirds of online adults (66%) use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or LinkedIn. These internet users say that connections with family members and friends (both new and old) are a primary consideration in their adoption of social media tools. Roughly two thirds of social media users say that staying in touch with current friends and family members is a major reason they use these sites, while half say that connecting with old friends they’ve lost touch with is a major reason behind their use of these technologies.
Other factors play a much smaller role—14% of users say that connecting around a shared hobby or interest is a major reason they use social media, and 9% say that making new friends is equally important. Reading comments by public figures and finding potential romantic partners are cited as major factors by just 5% and 3% of social media users, respectively.
—Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet Project, quoted in What do Americans want from their libraries? Here’s our chance to find out
For years researchers at the Pew Internet & American Life Project have been tracking changes in our information ecosystem. Now they’ll be looking at the habits and expectations of library users—and nonusers. [next libraries]
How to participate in our new study:
There are two ways to get involved in the Pew Internet Project’s research on American libraries.
- For the first phase of the study, which will begin in the next few months, Rainie will need to identify people who use ebook readers and tablets in libraries. Participants will be asked about their reading habits, how they use their ereaders with library materials, and what the experience is like for them. If you know of ebook-reading patrons who would be willing to participate, contact Rainie at lrainie [at] pewinternet [dot] org.
- For the second phase of the study, which will happen in mid- to late 2012, the Pew Internet Project will be surveying both librarians and community members about library services. Rainie wants to hear from a diverse set of librarians about services they’re now offering, services they’re contemplating, and services they may be seeing less demand for. If you’re a librarian who would like to participate, contact Rainie at lrainie [at] pewinternet [dot] org.
The Project for Excellence in Journalism (a fellow Pew Research project) and The Economist Group have collaborated on the most comprehensive and detailed analysis to date of tablet users and how they get news on their tablets: To what extent are people using their tablets for news rather than other activities? Are they getting more news now than before they had their tablets?
The multi-phase study of nearly 1,200 tablet users and nearly 900 tablet news users offers unprecedented findings on many questions, and will be available on www.journalism.org on Tuesday, October 25.
We’ve got a great new Pew Research Center report out today about college presidents and how they view the tech in the classroom—both today and in the coming years. This report cover everything from the perceptions of the public and college presidents about the value of online learning, the prevalence and future of online courses, use of digital textbooks, the internet and plagiarism, and technology use in the classroom, as well as college presidents’ own use of technology.
For instance: About half of college presidents (51%) say an online course provides an equal educational value to one taken in a classroom; just three-in-ten American adults (29%) agree. (Do you?)
More than three-quarters of college presidents (77%) report that their institutions now offer online courses, and college presidents predict substantial growth in online learning: 15% say most of their current undergraduate students have taken a class online, 50% predict that ten years from now most of their students will take classes online.
Other findings include:
- Most college presidents (55%) say that plagiarism in students’ papers has increased over the past 10 years. Among those who have seen an increase in plagiarism, 89% say computers and the internet have played a major role.
- The leaders of the nation’s colleges and universities are a tech-savvy group. Nearly nine-in-ten (87%) use a smartphone daily, 83% use a desktop computer and 65% use a laptop.
- College presidents are ahead of the curve on some of the newer digital technologies: Fully half (49%) use a tablet computer such as an iPad at least occasionally, and 42% use an e-reader such as a Kindle or Nook.
- 15% of college presidents say most of their current undergraduate students have taken a class online, and 50% predict that 10 years from now most of their students will take classes online.
- Nearly two-thirds of college presidents (62%) anticipate that 10 years from now, more than half of the textbooks used by their undergraduate students will be entirely digital.
The report is based on findings from two Pew Research Center surveys: a national poll of the general public, and a survey of college presidents done in association with The Chronicle of Higher Education. You and read or download the full report here: http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/College-presidents.aspx
There is so much always changing about the Internet and how people use it, plus the rise of social media and all the new devices people use. How does the Pew Internet Project decide what topics and trends are important to study?
The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project has a broad mandate from the Pew Charitable Trusts to study the social impact of digital technology. We have two broad strategies to do that. The first is to conduct regular tracking surveys of technology users. These surveys ask who is online, who uses cell phones and other gadgets, what activities they pursue with those technologies, and their perceptions of how those technologies fit into their lives.
In the course of doing those surveys, we always collect demographic data and we frequently issue reports and statistics about teens, seniors, men and women, digital divide issues, rural technology use, and a host of other subjects tied to tech-user data.
The second broad strategy driving our research is to focus on six key subjects that cover key aspects of the way the internet is affecting people. We look at the impact of technology on 1) families; 2) communities, both in the real world and the virtual world; 3) health and health care, 4) education, both formal and informal; 5) civic and political life; and 6) work places.
Our writ from the Pew Charitable Trusts is to try to generate data and analysis that will be useful to policy makers, scholars, important organizations of all kinds, and interested citizens. However, we do not do that research with policy recommendations in mind. We do not take positions on policy matters, or promote (or challenge) particular technologies or companies. So, we do our research in a way that we hope those communities might find useful and will interpret in their own way.
From time to time, we feel that this mandate from the Pew Charitable Trusts necessitates that we try to get survey readings on important policy issues such as privacy and identity matters, the way people use and think about e-government services, and the impact of spam. We pick those topics when we believe that insights from technology users will help inform policy debates, so we try to be topical and timely.
We are always assessing the technology environment to see what new gadgets, activities, and applications are emerging and we change our questions based on our sense of when these have reached a critical mass of adoption in the general population. One of the key tools we employ to explore what’s coming next is to ask experts every so often about their views about the future of the internet and the likely social impacts that will occur. This is one of the best ways we know to keep our eyes on the horizon.
We are interested in hearing from stakeholders about the kind of research questions we might tackle. We invite you to send your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org. And I invite you to sign up to participate in occasional surveys that we conduct of long-time technology users. Email me at email@example.com if you’d like to participate in those surveys.
— Lee Rainie, Director
Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project
The Pew Research Center often receives questions from visitors to our site and users of our studies about our findings and how the research behind them is carried out. In this feature, senior research staff answers questions relating to the areas covered by our seven projects ranging from polling techniques and findings, to media, technology, religious, demographic and global attitudes trends. We can’t promise to respond to all the questions that we receive from you, our readers, but we will try to provide answers to the most frequently received inquiries as well as to those that raise issues of particular interest.
If you have a question related to our work, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org .