How students use social media, newspapers in 2010

Once a year, I survey the students in my global communication lecture class at  Virginia Commonwealth University to get an update on how the media uses of my students develop over time. It allows me to find the right channels to communicate with the students, but also helps my media partners to get a better picture on how they can target young audiences. I generally ask one media organization in Richmond to partner with the project and I ask specific questions about the organization’s content and how it compares to the competition in town.

This spring the focus was on how students use social media. 182 students participated in a one-shot Web survey that was open for one week. 177 students completed all sections of the survey. 165 of the participants were between 18 and 22 years old. 14 students were between 23 and 30 years, and three students older than 30 years. The majors varied greatly as the class is part of the general education curriculum. The survey is — of course — not representative for a greater student population, but it gives an indication on how media uses are  changing.

A selection of the results on students’ social media and general Internet uses as well as on newspapers subscriptions and readership are displayed in the charts below:

Social Media Uses

General Internet Use

Subscriptions and Newspaper Use

The following are the top websites the students use to gather news:

1.    Google.com                      20 % (n=37)
2.    Yahoo.com                       18 % (n=33)
3.    CNN.com                           14 % (n=26)
4.    MSN.com                             4 % (n=7)
5.    Nytimes.com                      3 % (n=6)
6.    BBC.com                               3 % (n=5)
7.    NBC12.com                         3 % (n=5)
8.    Washingtonpost.com      3 % (n=5)
9.    Foxnews.com                     2 % (n=4)
10. MSNBC.com                        2 % (n=4)
11. Perezhilton.com                2 % (n=4)
12. Timesdispatch.com         2 % (n=3)
13. Twitter.com                        2 % (n=3)
14. AOL.com                             2 % (n=3)
15. Wikipedia.com                  1 % (n=2)
None                                           10 % (n=19)
Other                                             9 % (n=16)

For more information on the results and the project, please send an e-mail or comment below.

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