Student use of social media, newspapers in 2011

This spring semester, I again surveyed the students in my global communication class at Virginia Commonwealth University to get an update on how the media uses of my students develop over time. The focus was on how students use social media. 83.4% of the students use social media at least once per day and 56.7% use social media to gather news and information every day. The use of newspapers, on the other hand, is very low. Only 3.2% of the students read a newspaper every day. At least the use of newspaper websites is a little bit higher with a daily usage rate of 22.9%.

157 students participated in this one-shot Web survey that was open for two weeks. 128 of the participants were between 18 and 22 years old. 22 students were between 23 and 30 years, and seven 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 difference to previous years was that the class was completely offered online with no lectures on campus (see 2010 results).

The survey results showed that students mostly rely on Google, CNN and Yahoo to gather news on the Web. The following are the most popular news websites:

1.    Google.com                      25.5% (n=40)
2.    CNN.com                         15.9% (n=25)
3.    Yahoo.com                       11.5% (n=18)
4.    Nytimes.com                   3.8 % (n=6)
5.    AOL.com                          3.2% (n=5)
5.    BBC.com                           3.2% (n=5)
7.    MSN.com                          2.5% (n=4)
7.    MSNBC.com                     2.5% (n=4)
9.    Washingtonpost.com      1.9% (n=3)
9.    Foxnews.com                  1.9% (n=3)
9.    Twitter.com                     1.9% (n=3)
None                                         7.6% (n=12)
Other                                        18.5% (n=29)

For the first time, I also asked for the number of the students’ Facebook friends: 0-499 friends: 53.5% (n=84); 500-999 friends: 34.4% (n=54); 1000-1499: 8.3% (n=13); 1500-1999 friends: 0.6% (n=1); 2000 and more friends: 3.2% (n=5).

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:

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