Two thirds of American adults use social networking sites

Almost two out of three (65%) of adult internet users in the United States now say they use a social networking site, up from 61% a year ago, according to a recent report by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.

The researchers also say that if marks the first time that more than half of all adults (which includes online and offline adults) use sites such as MySpace, Facebook or LinkedIn.

By comparison just 8% of internet users or 5% of all adults said they used social networking sites when the researchers first asked in February of 2005.

Among internet users surveyed in May of this year, social networking sites are most popular with women and young adults, but most of the growth over the past year came from adults over age 30. Looking at overall usage, wired seniors grew their ranks the most over the past year; 33% of those ages 65 and older now use the sites, compared with 26% one year ago.

Fully 5 out 6 (83%) of adults 19-29 used such sites compared with: 70% of 30-49 year-olds; 51% of 50-64 year-olds; and 33% of those ages 65 and older. In a typical day, 43% of online adults use social networking, up from 38% a year ago.

When social networking users were asked for one word to describe their experiences using social networking sites, “good” was the most common response. Overall, positive responses far outweighed the negative.

“Social networking sites continue to cement their place as a significant part of mainstream online life,” said Kathryn Zickuhr, a Research Specialist and co-author of the report. “Even as some users find their experiences with social networking sites frustrating or overwhelming, most seem to view the services positively on the whole.”

View the whole report here.

The national survey findings come from a poll conducted on landline and cell phones, in English and Spanish, between April 26 and May 22, 2011 among 2,277 adults (age 18 and older) in the U.S. The margin of error among the internet users is +/- 3.7 percentage points.

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