Facebook originated as a social networking site exclusively for college students, but that quickly changed. Some may question whether the website is influenced by college students much at all anymore, since it has grown into a worldwide phenomenon that crosses all social barriers. However, user statistics from 2010 and 2011 indicate that while Facebook had a vast worldwide influence at the time, college students continued to be an essential group in its development.
Usage by Age
According to iStrategyLabs, which compiles Facebook usage statistics annually, as of January 2011 there were 45,406,460 U.S. users in the 18 to 24 age range. This represented 30.9 percent of total Facebook users. Between January 2010 and January 2011, the number of users in this range increased by 74.1 percent, making it the fastest-growing age group using Facebook. According to research published by insidefacebook.com, there were 50,679,700 U.S. users ages 18 to 25 in March 2011, representing 35 percent of total usage.
IStrategyLabs reported that as of early 2011, 11,748,840 currently enrolled college students were using Facebook in the United States. This didn't include students using Facebook who didn't report whether or not they were enrolled, so the actual number was probably higher. Reported enrollment grew from 3,521,900 college students in the previous year. This made the annual growth for this demographic an astounding 233.1 percent. These enrolled students accounted for 8 percent of all U.S. Facebook users. In comparison, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that in 2010 through 2011, there were about 19,100,000 students enrolled in U.S. colleges. This means that at least 60 percent of U.S. college students were using Facebook during this period.
Surveys of young Facebook users in 2010 and 2011 revealed some interesting habits about they way they chose to spend their time. About 60 percent of college students' daily Internet consumption was spent on social media sites, out of which Facebook was the largest. According to Online Schools, 48 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds checked Facebook immediately after they woke up in the morning, and 28 percent of the same age group checked Facebook on their phones before getting out of bed. About 48 percent of young Americans said they learned about news over Facebook instead of traditional sources.
Facebook is so entrenched in the daily lives of modern college students that it is transforming the way they communicate, how they spend their leisure time and how they perceive the world around them. Many young people are not casual about their Facebook usage, and check the site multiple times a day. For some it is admittedly an addiction; in fact, many say that they talk to people more online than they do in person. This behavior is influencing commerce and politics in the rest of society. Thirty-two percent of college students believe that online advocacy is more effective than face-to-face campaigning. As a result, businesses and campaigns have flocked to Facebook as the way to reach a young audience, in turn making the website even bigger and more influential.
- iStrategyLabs: 2011 Facebook Demographics and Statistics
- The Western Carolina Journalist: Social Media: Communication Friend or Foe?
- Online Schools: Obsessed With Facebook
- Web Business: Facebook Demographics Revisited: 2011 Statistics
- ClickZ: Many College Facebook Users Say Web Advocacy Better Than In-Person
- U.S. Census Bureau: Back to School: 2010-2011
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