The Pew Internet and American Life Project, a nonpartisan, nonprofit “fact tank” that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world, has compiled a report outlining the emotional climate of social networking in America. Their findings are quite positive, with most adult respondents citing positive online experiences. Younger, respondents, however, are more likely to have had witnessed negative social media activity, such as cyber-bullying. Of course, this is hardly surprising, though it nevertheless provides further evidence that kids today must be trained on how to approach, prevent, and ignore cyber-bullying.
The overall social and emotional climate of social networking sites (SNS) is a very positive one where adult users get personal rewards and satisfactions at far higher levels than they encounter anti-social people or have ill consequences from their encounters. A nationally representative phone survey of American adults finds that:
- 85% of SNS-using adults say that their experience on the sites is that people are mostly kind, compared with 5% who say people they observe on the sites are mostly unkind and another 5% who say their answer depends on the situation.
- 68% of SNS users said they had an experience that made them feel good about themselves.
- 61% had experiences that made them feel closer to another person. (Many said they had both experiences.)
- 39% of SNS-using adults say they frequently see acts of generosity by other SNS users and another 36% say they sometimes see others behaving generously and helpfully. By comparison, 18% of SNS-using adults say they see helpful behavior “only once in a while” and 5% say they never see generosity exhibited by others on social networking sites.
At the same time, notable proportions of SNS users do witness bad behavior on those sites and nearly a third have experienced some negative outcomes from their experiences on social networking sites. Some 49% of SNS-using adults said they have seen mean or cruel behavior displayed by others at least occasionally. And 26% said they had experienced at least one of the bad outcomes that were queried in the survey.
Read the full report: here.
Rainie, Lee et al. The tone of life on social networking sites. Pew Internet & American Life Project, Feb 9, 2012, http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2012/Social-networking-climate.aspx, accessed on Feb 14, 2012.