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Facebook uses ability to connect to narrow generation gap

Courtesy of Creative Commons at

Courtesy of Creative Commons at

The social network Facebook is the most popular social network in the world. With over 1.15 billion users, Facebook has more users than the United States has citizens — more than three times over.

According to Digital Marketing Ramblings, about 699 million people log in to Facebook every day, where they spend an average of twenty minutes per visit on the website.

A study by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project found that in February 2013, 86 percent of those aged 18-29 were on Facebook. A reasonably high number, but one that might have been expected. However, the same study found that 73 percent of the demographic aged 30-49 were on the social network and 35 percent of Americans aged over 65 years had a Facebook account.

Statistics and numbers are one thing, but many users on Facebook have various reasons for using the social network.

Karla Martinez is a 19-year-old student at Northern Arizona University. She didn’t create a Facebook account until the summer between her junior and senior year of high school. While she admits she succumbed to the peer pressure of being on Facebook, the more important reason she made an account was “because I knew I was going to be graduating soon [and] I wanted to keep in contact with my friends once we were in college.”

Facebook got its start with college students like Martinez. Originally intended to help students at Harvard University connect with each other, the website saw 1,200 Harvard students create a profile within the first 24 hours of Facebook’s existence. By February 2004, one month after its birth, half of the undergraduate population at Harvard had a Facebook, according to Social Media Today.

Six months later, the website had hit 30 campuses across the nation with 150,000 registered students. By December 2004, days before its first birthday, Facebook had reached one million users, according to Social Media Today.

In September 2005, high school student in the United States were allowed to join Facebook, which is where the website took off on a global scale. The next month, college students in the United Kingdom began creating accounts. Other nations and continents followed suit and in October 2012, less than a decade after it was created, Facebook reached a billion users, according to Social Media Today.

Users like Martinez enjoy connecting with current friends while others use the network to connect to friends from the past.

Brenda Avalos, a 39-year old from Phoenix, said that at first, the only reason she created a Facebook was to connect with a friend from Louisiana four years ago.

“I had never had anything like social media before Facebook,” Avalos said. “I think…it’s good that you can reconnect with people, people you normally would not be able to keep up with and talk to.”

Avalos said that she checks her Facebook about three times a day, but mostly only to update her status and upload pictures of her child as opposed to reading the statuses of other friends on her news feed.

Martinez also said that her Facebook is primarily used to put her own statuses up rather than see what everyone else has to say.

“It’s more so for pictures,” Martinez said. “Whenever…[I] hang out with friends, everyone always wants to be tagged in pictures, so it’s a place to keep my pictures.”

So do people in different age groups use Facebook differently than those in other generations?

“Definitely,” said Martinez. “I think people in their thirties and forties use it more so to keep in contact with their friends and family as opposed to our generation…they use it more for credibility…almost like an ego-boost.”

Avalos, for the most-part, agreed.

“I think that teenagers, for example, use it more to gossip than find information,” said Avalos. “As far as adults are concerned, it depends on the adult. Some adults are still like kids…they use it…to be immature, but the working adult uses it to be more professional.”

Avalos also offered some advice about some of the negatives of the social network.

“Anything you put on [Facebook] is out there,” said Avalos. “What’s out there is out there, no matter if you delete it…kids don’t know when they sign up that when they sign up it’s a contract stating that ‘your personal information is no longer personal and the pictures that you put up are no longer yours’, they are theirs too.”

Combined, Martinez and Avalos make up a very small part of the largest social network on the planet, but their insight revealed that a generation gap is not as evident in Facebook as with other social networks. Though two decades apart, Martinez and Avalos use Facebook for the same relative reasons.

An article on said that 70 percent of Facebook users use the website to connect with family and friends, just as Martinez and Avalos do. Digital Marketing Ramblings found that there have been a total of 150 billion total Facebook friend connections since the website started.

Twitter and its many tweets may prove to be a different story. Next week, Generation Update will check out the second-most popular social network on the web right now. Perhaps there, a generation gap will be more evident.