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The percentage of Americans age 12 and older who have a profile on one or more social networking Web sites has reached almost half (48 percent) of the population in 2010 — double the level from two years ago (24 percent in 2008), according to a new national survey from Arbitron, Inc. and Edison Research. What’s more, the Internet has surpassed TV as the “most essential” medium in consumers’ lives.
The study, “Infinite Dial 2010: Digital Platforms and the Future of Radio,” also reveals that consumer use of social networking sites isn’t just a youth phenomenon. While nearly eight in 10 teens (78 percent) and 18- to 24-year-olds (77 percent) have personal profile pages, almost two-thirds of 25- to 34-year-olds (65 percent) and half of 35- to 44-year-olds (51 percent) also now have personal profile pages. The study also shows that 30 percent of Americans age 12 and older, who have a profile on at least one social networking Web site, use those sites “several times a day” compared with only 18 percent one year ago.
“The use of social networking sites has expanded beyond younger consumers, with substantial numbers of Americans over the age of 35 now using social media,” said Bill Rose, SVP of marketing at Columbia, Md.-based Arbitron.
“Social networking has become a part of mainstream media behavior,” added Tom Webster, VP of strategy and marketing at Somerville, N.J.-based Edison Research.
Since 1998, this research series has reported on and analyzed consumer use of the Internet and digital platforms, and their impact on radio. “Americans continue to hold radio in high regard, with nearly eight in 10 saying they plan to listen to as much AM/FM radio in the future as they do now, despite advances of technology” noted Rose.
“Younger consumers show interest in radio on mobile phones,” observed Webster. “More than four in 10 mobile phone owners age 12 to 24 say they would listen more to FM radio if a tuner were built into those phones.”
Some of the study’s key findings include:
—The Internet passes TV as “most essential” medium in Americans’ lives: For the first time, more Americans say the Internet is “most essential” to their lives when given a choice along with television, radio, and newspapers; 42 percent chose the Internet as “most essential,” with 37 percent selecting television, 14 percent choosing radio and 5 percent opting for newspapers. While television still leads among those over the age of 45, Internet dominates among younger people age 12 to 44
—More than six in 10 households with Internet access have a Wi-Fi network at home: Sixty-two percent of homes with Internet access have wireless network setups in their homes, more easily enabling the consumption of digital media in any room of their home, as more and more devices feature built-in Wi-Fi, such as the new Apple iPad
—Texting has become a daily activity for nearly half of all mobile phone owners: Almost half of mobile phone owners (45 percent) age 12 and older text multiple times a day. Three quarters of teens (75 percent) and people age 18 to 24 (76 percent) text multiple times a day, vs. nearly two thirds (63 percent) of 25-to-34s, four in 10 (42 percent) 35-to-44s, and 37 percent of 45-to-54s
—Broadband access has leveled and growth has stabilized for some digital platforms: Growth of residential broadband has leveled off, with 84 percent of homes with Internet access having broadband connections. The slower growth of residential broadband is associated with little year-over-year change in weekly usage of online radio (17 percent) and online video (29 percent). The study suggests that expanded use of mobile devices and in-car Internet may spark the next wave of growth