According to the latest data from the Pew Research Center, 65 percent of American adults use social networking sites, up from 7 percent when Pew began systematically tracking social media usage in 2005.
A special analysis of 27 national surveys of Americans across the past decade documents this substantial spread of technology throughout the population, although the overall number of users of social networking sites has leveled off since 2013. At the same time, there continues to be growth in social media usage among some groups, including older Americans.
Across demographic groups, Pew has identified a number of trends in social media usage:
- Age differences: Young adults (ages 18 to 29) are the most likely to use social media – fully 90% do. Usage among those 65 and older has more than tripled since 2010 when 11% used social media. Today, 35% of all those 65 and older report using social media, compared with just 2% in 2005.
- Gender differences: Women were more likely than men to use social networking sites for a number of years, although since 2014 these differences have been modest. Today, 68% of all women use social media, compared with 62% of all men.
- Socio-economic differences: Over the past decade, it has consistently been the case that those in higher-income households were more likely to use social media. More than half (56%) of those living in the lowest-income households now use social media, though growth has leveled off in the past few years. Turning to educational attainment, a similar pattern is observed. Those with at least some college experience have been consistently more likely than those with a high school degree or less to use social media over the past decade.
- Racial and ethnic similarities: There are not notable differences by racial or ethnic group: 65% of whites, 65% of Hispanics and 56% of African-Americans use social media.
- Community differences: Those who live in rural areas are less likely than those in suburban and urban communities to use social media. Today, 58% of rural residents, 68% of suburban residents, and 64% of urban residents use social media.
See the full report from Pew.