Ofcom research shows that just over one fifth (22%) of adult internet users aged 16+ and almost half (49%) of children aged 8-17 who use the internet have set up their own profile on a social networking site.

For adults, the likelihood of setting up a profile is highest among 16-24 year olds (54%) and decreases with age.

Despite the fact that the minimum age for most major social networking sites is usually 13 (14 on MySpace), 27% of 8-11 year olds who are aware of social networking sites say that they have a profile on a site.

The site people choose to use varies depending on the user. Children are more likely to use Bebo (63% of those who have a social networking site profile), and the most popular site for adults is Facebook (62% of those who have a social networking profile).

Research by Boyd (2008) showed that young people (16 or younger) were more likely to access social networking sites on the internet at home than anywhere else.

Despite young people being a core market of social networking sites, their spontaneous awareness of the generic term ’social networking sites’ was significantly lower than that of their parents (37% vs. 50%). Once the term was explained, overall awareness was similar to that of their parents. Most children over 12 are aware of social networking sites.

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