Roughly two-thirds of Americans aged 12 and older have a social networking profile, up from 62% last year, according to [pdf] a report from Edison Research and Triton Digital. Facebook remains the most popular site, used by 58% of survey respondents of that age, but was the only platform other than MySpace not to see an increase in penetration year-over-year. But, Facebook users report a larger number of Facebook friends this year, and that increase is being driven by its younger users.
Overall, Facebook users claimed this year to have an average of 350 friends each, up from 303 in last year’s study and 262 the year before. Among respondents with a Facebook profile, 18-24-year-olds boasted the largest network of friends, at an average of 649. That’s a significant hike from their leading reported average of 510 last year. (And for it’s worth, it’s a much higher figure than found in a separate study from the Pew Research Center.)
As for teens (obligatory mention), 12-17-year-olds on Facebook said they have an average of 521 friends each, a relatively modest increase from 506 last year. For the optimists, it’s an increase; for the pessimists, it’s a small one relative to the overall average. (See here for more on Facebook and teens.)
Indeed, while the average number of friends reported by Facebook users grew by 16%, that increase was limited to 3% among 12-17-year-olds. By comparison, the number of friends grew most rapidly among 35-44-year-olds (+33%) and 25-34-year-olds (+27%). The 65+ group was the only to report a decrease in the number of average friends, of about 11%.
Overall, some 28% of survey respondents reported using social networking platforms several times a day. That was only a point higher than last year’s tally; growth in this respect appears to have stalled this year after more substantial increases in 2013 (+5% points) and 2012 (+4% points).
Frequent use of social networking platforms is higher among smartphone owners, though, of whom roughly 4 in 10 use social platforms several times a day, not surprising given that a majority of social networking time spent was occurring on a mobile device as early as December 2012.
About the Data: The data is based on a national telephone survey conducted by Edison Research in January and February 2014 among 2,023 people aged 12 and older using random digit dialing techniques. The survey was offered in English and Spanish and both landlines and cell phones were called. The data was weighted to national 12+ population figures.