A large majority, roughly 67 percent, of social media users say that staying in touch with current friends and family members is a major reason they use social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or LinkedIn, according to a Pew Internet survey.
While the majority consists of a demographically diverse group of people, female social media users are more likely than male users to cite family connections as a major reason for using the sites, at 72 percent and 55 percent respectively.
The top reasons for using social media were to stay in touch with current friends, 67 percent; staying in touch with family, 64 percent; and connecting with old friends, 50 percent.
Among the last common reasons was connecting with others who shared hobbies or interests at 14 percent; making new friends, 9 percent; and reading comments by celebrities, athletes, or politicians, 5 percent; while the least common reason people use social media was for dating purposes at only 3 percent.
Older Adults vs. Younger Adults
The survey found that compared with older adults, users under the age of 50 are especially likely to say that social media sites help them keep up with existing friends and reconnect with old ones.
About seven in ten users under the age of fifty say that keeping in touch with current friends is a major reason they use such social media platforms and over half say that reconnecting with old friends they’ve lost touch with is equally important.
Women vs. Men
The study’s results included data about how women and men differ slightly in the way they use social media sites.
Women are a little more likely than men to say that staying in touch with current friends is a major reason for using online social tools, 70 percent compared to 63 percent. Men are more likely than women to use social media outlets to connect around a hobby or interest, 56 percent compared to 44 percent.
In addition, the survey also found that parents are more likely than non-parents to say that reconnecting with old friends is a major reason behind their usage, 56 percent compared to 47 percent.
While connecting with public figures is among the least reason for social media usage, it is important in Twitter alone as one in ten Twitter users, 11 percent, say that reading comments by politicians, celebrities or athletes is a major reason they use online social networks.
Twitter users are more interested in connecting with public figures than are social media users who do not use Twitter.
The survey was based off of a national telephone interview of 2,277 adults.