Social networking sites have been the latest subset of sites on the Internet to get the star treatment after MySpace sold for over $500 million and Facebook grew to become approximately the size of NASA. Young people around the country and around the world have flocked to social networking sites to keep up to date on friends, share music and meet new friends.
According to a recent study released by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 55 percent of all teens online use some kind of social networking site. The vast majority use the site primarily to keep track of friends, both ones they see regularly and ones they don't.
As a tool of communication, teens most often use the site to make plans or send messages to friends, but would someone 30 or above get involved in something like that? Well, the fact is that older users of social networking sites have increased in population over the last year or so and are quickly becoming a significant chunk of the traffic.
Are the generation X and older crowd getting involved to keep track of their kids? Maybe, but I would venture a guess that the very thing that makes it appealing to young people (great communication tools, lots of available friends) make it appealing to the older crowd as well. As more of an older person's friends join a site, the more they can interact the same way a teen does now.
Plus, where else are you going to find a vast listing of people in an area with a relationship status attached without paying $30 a month to Yahoo Personals? Finding new friends and relationship partners is another great way older people might use social networking sites like MySpace.
The same thing that draws a teen to MySpace, Facebook, Xanga or some other site is what might draw their mom or dad. Everyone wants to keep in touch with friends and stay up to date on what is going on, so any site that is popular enough to have a good portion of a person's friends and makes it easy to communicate is fair game.
I just wouldn't want my mom looking through my profile...