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Whose Space? Differences Among Users and Non-Users of Social Network Sites

Whose Space? Differences Among Users and Non-Users of Social Network Sites

Eszter Hargittai


Are there systematic differences between people who use social network sites and those who stay away, despite a familiarity with them? Based on data from a survey administered to a diverse group of young adults, this article looks at the predictors of SNS usage, with particular focus on Facebook, MySpace, Xanga, and Friendster. Findings suggest that use of such sites is not randomly distributed across a group of highly wired users. A person’s gender, race and ethnicity, and parental educational background are all associated with use, but in most cases only when the aggregate concept of social network sites is disaggregated by service. Additionally, people with more experience and autonomy of use are more likely to be users of such sites. Unequal participation based on user background suggests that differential adoption of such services may be contributing to digital inequality



The author studied the differences between users and non-users of social networking sites, specifically Facebook, MySpace, Xanga and Friendster. Women are more likely to use social networking. A relationship exists between race and parental education and the type of social networking site college students choose to use. Specifically, Hispanic students are more likely than White students to use MySpace, while White students are more likely to use Facebook. A students’ living situation also appears to be related to use, students who live with their parents are less likely to use social networking sites. This article points out the importance of collecting data about types of social networking services, so as not to generalize the behavior on one service to another, or to lose important statistical differences in a diverse sample of users. The author also suggests that this data shows that the life a person leads in an online social network is reflects the life he/she leads in the real world, networks are somewhat segmented based on race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status.

APA Citation

Hargittai, E. (2007). Whose space? Differences among users and non-users of social network sites. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13, 276-297. doi: 10.1111/j.1083-6101.2007.0396.x

About the Study

Links to Article
Publication Type Journal Article
In Publication Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication
Type of Research Quantitative
Research Design Survey research (qualitative or quantitative)
Intervention/Areas of Study Social media, Social presence
Level of Analysis Student-level
Specific Populations Examined First-year students, Undergraduates
Peer-Reviewed Yes
Specific Institutional Characteristics of Interest Doctorate-granting, Public
Specific Course or Program Characteristics Social sciences
Outcome Variables of Interest Other
Student Sample Size 500 +
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