Racial Differences in the Use of Social Networking Web Sites by College Students

Social networking Web sites such as FaceBook and MySpace are very popular among college students. The sites are used by college students to share news, find friends with similar interests, and to post messages, photographs, and videos.

Eszter Hargittai, an assistant professor of communications studies and sociology at Northwestern University, surveyed more than 1,000 students at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The results, which were published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, showed that 88 percent of the students used social networking sites and 74 percent frequently used one particular site.

Nearly 80 percent of those surveyed said that they used FaceBook, a site that was originally designed exclusively for college students. Fifty-five percent of the respondents said that they used MySpace. Less than 7 percent of all respondents reported using the less popular social networking sites Xanga, Friendster, Orkut, and Bebo.

The results showed differences by race. Black students were less likely than other students to use social networking sites. Blacks who did use the sites were less likely than whites to use the four less popular social networks. And blacks made up a larger percentage of the users of MySpace than their percentage of total users at Facebook. Asian American students were far more likely than other students to use the four least popular sites. Hispanic students tended to prefer MySpace over the other social networks.