Posted February 9, 2012 3:34 pm by with 1 comment

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Need a shot of the milk of human kindness? Spend a little time on a social network and your faith in humanity will be renewed.

So sayeth the majority of the 2,260 adults who responded to the latest Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project study.

The tone of life on social networking sites” takes a look at people’s perceptions about their interactions on sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

85% of adults said that their experiences were mostly kind. 68% went so far as to say that they had an experience that made them feel good and 61% felt closer to another person thanks to social media. And how about this? 39% said they frequently saw acts of generosity by others. Frequently!

By comparison, only 13% of adults said someone was mean to them. The same number reported ending a friendship thanks to a social media faux pas and 11% ended up with family problems.

The worst of the bunch, a mere 3%, said they got into a physical fight due to an experience on social media. Incredibly, 3% was also the percentage of people who got in trouble at work due to a posting.

Teens had higher instances of negativity with 25% saying social media led to a face-to-face argument and 22% saw the end of a friendship.

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Watch Your Language

To go along with their more negative bent, teens also reported higher instances of foul language and offensive images. 34% of Millennials used the word “frequently” while only 17% of GenXers noted offensive content.

Logic would say that older people find more things offensive, thus would have the higher reported percentage, but the opposite is true. That tells me that the Millennials are simply hanging around with more people who present this type of content.

What’s interesting is that the survey shows teens are more likely to get involved when things turn ugly. 61% of teens said they would defend a person who was being attacked and / or tell the offender to stop. 45% of adults said they’d ignore the behavior.

Teens also took the higher number when it came to thinking twice about posting. 55% said they decided not to post something that might have made them look bad. Only 45% of adults made the same decision.

This could mean that teens are more concerned about how they appear to others. Or it could mean that Millennials are simply smarter about social media usage having grown up with Facebook as a part of their life.

  • Interesting article Cynthia. It’s obvious that teens have a much different perspective on social media compared to adults. But I do not believe that Millennials are smarter about it, just that they are concerned about how they appear in front of people they know – like you said. I think feeling that way is part of being a teenager and that is why the act the same on social media as in their day-to-day social life.