More than half of online adults now flit between two or more social media platforms, a year-over-year increase of 10 percentage points, according to the latest data from the Pew Research Center.
Facebook continues to be the most popular social media site, although its use among all Internet users flattened at 71%, the same as the previous year. More seniors are using the platform, however, with 56% of those age 65 or older “friending” each other and their kids and grandkids, Pew reported in January 2015.
Other social networks such as Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter had significant growth in the proportion of online adults using their sites over the past year. Among Pew’s findings: 53% of young adults (ages 18 to 29) use Instagram; Pinterest is more popular among women (42%) than among men (13%); and half of college-educated adults use LinkedIn.
The survey results are based on telephone interviews conducted in September 2014 with 2,003 adults. Respondents were split nearly evenly between landline and cellular users, which has become critical in survey research as a growing number of people abandon traditional wire-based phones.
Pew noted that Facebook acts as “home base” for online adults and has significant overlap with other platforms. The survey found that 52% of online adults use two or more platforms, up from 42% the previous year. Of those who use just one online platform, 79% clicked on Facebook.
Overall, Facebook captured 58% of surveyed social media users, more than double the other platforms, which ranged from 19% for Twitter to 23% for LinkedIn.
So, is the growing use of social media causing more stress among its users, as some observers have suggested?
Not in and of itself, according to another new report by Pew Research. Indeed, in some cases, female Twitter users report having less stress in their lives.
However, use of digital technology can be linked to stress when social media platforms make users more aware of the stress in other people’s lives.
Pew researchers call this greater awareness “the cost of caring” and found that it affects women more than men. For example, a female Facebook user with an average-size network of “friends” is aware of 13% more stressful events in the lives of her closest social ties compared with a woman who does not use Facebook.
Stress-causing events that people share on social media platforms include death, injuries and hospitalizations, legal problems and job setbacks. “While the little sips of information sent through social media may not seem like much, they can add up to a big gulp,” Pew researchers wrote in the January 2015 report, Social Media and the Cost of Caring.