I have just started editing the August edition of Research News and this morning I am compiling the 'Topline' column, which is a summary of recent research findings. While doing so I came across a media release from Lifelounge's Urban Market Research that claims that young people are starting to question the authenticity of social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
UMR is an annual trend report into the attitudes and behaviours of Australia's young adults (aged 16-30). It contains quantitative (1,662 participants) and qualitative (25 participants) data based on the five lifestyle pillars of youth culture: music, entertainment, fashion, sport and travel, and the key three influences: communication, finance, and sex, health and wellbeing. The research is weighted against ABS statistics and was conducted online between late January and March this year.
According to the more comprehensive UMR Report on Key Findings and Trends that was circulated with the media release, young Australians are seeking to balance their online worlds with more meaningful offline contact. The report concludes that young people believe "technology should assist, not dictate, how they interact with one another". As a sign of a growing backlash against impersonal digital communication, UMR says talking to friends on mobiles has increased to 97% (up from 95%) while SMSing has remain unchanged. And the modern form of the written word – emailing – is also on the rise, particularly among 16-19 year olds, increasing more than 15% from last year.
The UMR report goes on to say that while the popularity of Facebook has doubled over the last 12 months (43.8% listed it as their favourite website, up from 21.3%), a growing number of young adults are questioning their heavy reliance on social networking. They see it as too commercial, superficial and time consuming, and are questioning its authenticity as they seek to reclaim their privacy and connect with their real friends. MySpace is on the wane (down to 10.7% from 17.5%), although its still considered the best online social destination for music.
There is actually no mention of Twitter in the report, so I am going back to the PR folk to find out.
If you know of any research about how many young people are using Twitter in Australia, please comment below.