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AP/Viacom survey: young adults see social media as key for jobs, education

college students social media

According to a recent study [PDF file] by Viacom and The Associated Press, young adults recognize that social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter can serve as a distraction, but they also feel that they're crucial tools for education and career building.

Sixty percent of respondents said social networking sites are a "good" or "excellent" way to make connections that will help with a future career, and 55 percent said the sites are a good or excellent way to find people who might provide career advice.

Sixty-four percent said social networking sites are a good or excellent way to get information on class assignments, 71 percent described the sites as a good or excellent way to form study groups and collaborate with other students, and 82 percent said the sites are a good or excellent way to interact with fellow students.

Among those respondents who are currently employed (58 percent of respondents), 62 percent said social networking sites are a good or excellent way to interact with co-workers.

Still, 74 percent of respondents described social networking sites as a good or excellent way to distract yourself, and 89 percent said the sites are a good or excellent way to keep in touch with friends and family.

In general, however, social media sites have had less of an impact on education than other popular media--when asked to describe how various media had affected their education, 53 percent of respondents said the Internet had "a big effect" on their education, 51 percent said the same of books, and 24 percent said television had a big effect. In comparison, 23 percent said social media networks had a big effect on their education, 34 percent said social media had a small effect, and 42 percent said social media had no effect on their education.

The AP/Viacom study is based on a combination of peer-to-peer interviews and a telephone poll of more than 1,100 U.S. 18- to 24-year-olds conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Corporate Communications between February 18 and March 6, 2011.