What do college students do online?

by Eszter Hargittai on June 14, 2006

How does the popularity of Facebook compare to MySpace among a diverse group of college students? What types of blogs are students most likely to read? How many have ever visited Instapundit or Daily Kos?

As mentioned earlier, last month I gave a talk at the Beyond Broadcast conference hosted at Harvard Law School. The conference folks have now made the presentations available in both audio and video format. You can listen to or watch my talk misleadingly titled “Just a Pretty Face(book)? What College Students Actually Do Online”. (The title is misleading, because the talk is not about Facebook or even social-networking sites more generally speaking. Rather, it’s about what young people do online and how it differs by type of background.) I have put the presentation slides online in case you are curious to see the specifics (those are hard to follow on the video and there wasn’t enough time for me to mention stats in the presentation).

I should note that these are all still preliminary findings as I need to do more data cleaning and there’s tons more to do on the analysis front. But I don’t anticipate major changes in the findings presented given the size of the sample.

If you prefer text over these various other options I will be writing up the findings this summer and will post a link once it’s done. But if you can’t wait to find out the answers to the above questions then I recommend clicking on one of the above links. (All this information is toward the end of the presentation.)

Okay, fine, I won’t make it that difficult. The quick answers to the above questions are (again, for this group of college students):
1. Facebook is more popular (Facebook 78%, MySpace 51%)
2. Political blogs are the least popular type of blogs (from among the ones asked, which included personal journals, arts/culture/music, technology, sports)
3. 1% have ever visited each, Instapundit and Daily Kos that is (as per the third question above)

There’s lots more info in the presentation.

Recall that many of you took a survey back in January here on CT about your use of various sites and services. I haven’t forgotten that I still owe you a summary of the responses and that is forthcoming as I analyze the college student Internet use data. I thought reporting the former may be more interesting in the context of the latter thus the delay.

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Crooked Timber » » Bloggers on survey findings
06.16.06 at 10:32 am



Anarch 06.14.06 at 8:36 pm

“Each” being poliblog/personal stuff or being Facebook/Myspace?


Eszter 06.14.06 at 10:36 pm

“Each” being Instapundit and Daily Kos. That was the third question I listed in the first paragraph. Perhaps I’ll add a bit of info in the text to clarify.


Anarch 06.14.06 at 10:55 pm

Doh! Me read English good!


jet 06.15.06 at 8:48 am

1%?????? We’re doooooomed!


Aidan Kehoe 06.15.06 at 10:06 am

Jet–hmm? I’ve been reading blogs energetically–political ones, too–for four years at least, and I’ve never visited the Daily Kos. I think I’ve been at Instapundit twice. Languagehat.com, now …


Eszter 06.15.06 at 10:37 am

Aidan, if you look at the slides, you’ll see some other figures as well. It’s not possible to ask about everything on a survey so I had to pick a few items. Instapundit and Daily Kos are among the most widely read political blogs so if someone reads political blogs, there is a good chance they will have visited these at least once. I asked about some others as well – and will report on them at some later point -, but the numbers aren’t that different.


Aidan Kehoe 06.16.06 at 6:41 am

Eszter, sure. My life experience doesn’t have a whole lot to do with that of college students in Illinois, and it was unrealistic of me to chime in and pretend it does.

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