If you heed to the stereotype that Internet users are a bunch of pajama-wearing loners, buried in their basements typing away in front of a computer screen, not so fast. New research shows that Internet users are, in fact, more likely than their offline counterparts to be active in some type of community group or volunteering effort, and social media users even more so.
The latest study from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project found that 80 percent of Internet users participate in groups, compared with 56 percent of non-Internet users.
Social media users are even more active, with 82 percent of overall social network users and 85 percent of Twitter users, in particular, active in groups and organizations.
The survey also confirmed there remains a wide discrepancy among preferred networking platforms. Facebook, used by 62 percent of Internet users, was by far the most popular digital networking tool for groups, easily surpassing Twitter, used by just 12 percent of Internet users.
Of those surveyed active in groups, 48 percent had their own page on a social networking site, while 30 percent had their own blog and 16 percent communicated with other group members on Twitter.
Among the 2,303 American adults surveyed, Pew’s study found broad confirmation that the Internet is highly regarded as a tool for group members to communicate, raise awareness, fundraise and recruit new members.
62 percent of Americans, for instance, believe the Internet has had a major impact on the ability of groups to draw attention to an issue. 59 percent of Americans said the Internet has had a major impact on a group’s ability to impact society at large, and 52 percent said it has affected groups’ ability to raise money.
And while groups appear to keep current members connected and engaged online, it seems the initial approach still happens the old-fashioned way: offline.
75 percent of respondents said the Internet had nothing to do with their discovery of the groups they belong to, compared to just 24 percent of respondents who said they found groups to belong to online.
But the research also concluded that Internet users are not just joiners, but both more active participants in their groups than other adults, and more likely to feel pride and a sense of accomplishment in their group’s activities.