Pew poll: Social media usage correlated to GDP, age and education


Social media and use of cell phones for purposes other than talking typically is the province of rich countries and the young, finds a 21-country poll conducted by the Pew Research Center.

The polls were conducted in spring 2011 over the telephone or face-to-face and have per-country margin of errors ranging from 2.5 to 4.5 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

Although there is some variation among countries with similar per capita GDPs--the United Kingdom, notably exceeds the similar economics of France and Germany when it comes to the percentage of the population utilizing social networking--the overall trend shows that a low per capita GDP correlates to a smaller percentage of the populace utilizing social media.

Social networking usage globally also skews young, the polls find. For example, within the United States (margin of error is 4 percentage points), the Pew poll finds that 80 percent of Internet users aged 18-29 use social networking, while 62 percent of those aged 30-49 do and only 26 percent of those aged 50 and above do so.

Internet users with at least a college degree are also more likely to use social networking, Pew says, finding that within the United States a 16 percentage point gap in social networking usage according to education attainment. Forty five percent of American Internet users without a college degree use social media, while 61 percent of those with a degree do so, according to the poll.

When it comes to cellular device usage, an age- and education-rift also appears in the polling data. In nearly all countries polled, people aged 18-29 are more likely than those 50 or older to access the Internet on a mobile phone, Pew says.

Specifically within the United States, 73 percent of 18-29 year olds with a mobile device use it to connect to the Internet, while 49 percent of those aged 30-49 do, and only 21 percent of those aged 50 and above do so.

Similarly, 53 percent of American cell phone owners with a college degree go online with it, while only 39 percent without a college degree do so.

For more:
- download the Pew Research poll, "Global Digital Communication: Texting, Social Networking Popular Worldwide" (.pdf)

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