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Pew-SocNet-Site-Use-by-Age-Feb2013The proportion of internet users aged 18-29 who reported using social networking sites dropped to 83% in December 2012, according to results from a study by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. That represents a 10% decline from just 4 months earlier, and is the lowest proportion in roughly 2 years. Overall, after rising steadily for several years, the percentage of internet users who reported using social networking sites dropped for the first time between August and December 2012, down from 69% to 67%. (It’s worth noting that because the data refers specifically to internet users, the actual number of Americans using social networking sites may have increased, depending on the speed of growth of the online population.)

Meanwhile, the only group of internet users to see increased adoption of social networking sites during the August-to-December time period was the 30-49 crowd, up from 73% adoption in August to 77% in December. That means that the gap in adoption between it and the 18-29 set narrowed from 19% points in August 2012 to just 6% points in December.

As with the youngest group, there was a decline in the percentage of 50-64-year-olds (57% to 52%) and those 65 and over (38% vs. 32%) using social networking sites.

Among the 67% of connected consumers using social networking sites in December 2012, women proved about 15% more likely than men to be using the sites (71% vs. 62%). Hispanics also over-indexed in usage (72% vs. 67%), perhaps due to their age composition, tending to be far younger on average than whites.

Meanwhile, the Pew study also reveals that respondents with household income of less than $30,000 per year were the most likely to use social networking sites (72%), with the other income brackets slightly below average in use. Urban (70%) internet users proved more likely to use social networking sites than suburban (67%) or rural (61%) respondents.

A breakdown of demographics by popular social networking site can be found here.

About the Data: The data is derived from Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project Post-Election Survey, November 14 – December 09, 2012. N=1,802 internet users. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish and on landline and cell phones. Margin of error is +/- 2.6% points for results based on internet users. Facebook figures are based on Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project Omnibus Survey, December 13-16, 2012. Margin of error for Facebook data is +/- 2.9 percentage points for results based on internet users (n=860).

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