It has been argued that Facebook users are more fickle, superficial and quite simply fake. But a new report reveals that social networkers are more trusting, socially and politically engaged, have more real friendships, and are on the whole, more supportive.
The Pew Internet & American Life Project surveyed 2255 adults in the US on their use of sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and says users of such sites have higher measures of social wellbeing.
It’s author, Keith Hampton, told Reuters: “There has been a great deal of speculation about the impact of social networking site use on people’s social lives, and much of it has centered on the possibility that these sites are hurting users’ relationships and pushing them away from participating in the world.”
“We’ve found the exact opposite — that people who use sites like Facebook actually have more close relationships and are more likely to be involved in civic and political activities.”
Facebook is by far the most popular social networking site used by Internet users, and when asked whether they felt “that most people can be trusted,” Facebook users who use the site multiple times per day were found to be “43 percent more likely than other Internet users and more than three times as likely as non-internet users to feel that most people can be trusted.”
Facebook users also have slightly more close confidants, (2.16) than non-users (1.93) and said that the site has helped them to resurrect ‘dormant relationships’.
The landscape for social networking has also changed dramatically. In 2008 only 18 percent of Internet users 36 and older used a social networking site, which by 2010 had increased to 48 percent over the age of 35.
This is about twice the growth experienced by internet users 18-35; 63 percent of whom used a social site in 2008 compared with 80 percent in 2010.