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Almost half of US internet users over 65 use social networks, but only 5 percent use Twitter

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One of Pew's last studies may have found that teens were seeking refuge from "drama" on Twitter, but the social network still has a lot of catching up to do. In its latest poll, Pew asked around 1,900 American internet users whether they used social networks and, in a separate question, Twitter. While 72 percent said they did the former, only 18 percent reported using Twitter. Even so, that's a steady rise from 2010, when only 8 percent of internet users were on the platform. Social networks in general have grown as well: we've come a long way from the 8 percent using them in 2005, and 67 percent were on at least one network in late 2012, though the survey doesn't record how frequently they sign on.

In some cases, the conventional wisdom about social networks held. 74 percent of women, compared to 70 percent of men, used social networking overall, though the numbers evened out for Twitter. The younger a respondent, the more likely they were to use social networks, as seen in the chart below. But older internet users are also joining up in large numbers. 89 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds used social networks, but so did 78 percent of 30- to 49-year-olds, and 43 percent of those over 65 percent used a social network (though only 5 percent use Twitter, compared to 30 percent of those between 18 and 29.)


Likewise, despite real fears of a "digital divide" or speculation about social networks and class, the numbers were fairly even across income and education groups. People without a high school diploma were least likely to use social networks, at 67 percent; between 72 and 73 percent of everyone else said they had. Conversely, 75 percent of people in households that made less than $30,000 a year used social networks; between 71 and 74 percent of other income groups said they did. Twitter numbers showed more variation, generally rising with higher income and education.

Outside age, the biggest variations were mostly racial. Black and Hispanic respondents were more likely to report using social networks than white ones: 70 percent of the white survey group used social networks, compared to 75 percent of black respondents and 80 percent of Hispanic ones. On Twitter, the difference was starker. According to the survey, 14 percent of white respondents said they used the service, while 27 percent of black respondents and 28 percent of Hispanic ones used it. The full study is available online here, including methodology.