By Roger Yu
The popularity of Twitter and Instagram among blacks in American is surging, while white women under 50 continue to pin away on Pinterest, according to a demographic survey released Thursday.
The survey, by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, also confirmed what parents of college students already know - 83% Internet users ages 18 to 29 use social media.
But in revealing the demographics of users by race and ethnicity, on other emerging social-media platforms - Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr - the survey also attests to social media's accessibility, ubiquity and influence, regardless of cost and reach of broadband Internet.
Pew compiled the survey after phone interviews with 1,800 respondents Nov. 14 to Dec. 9. Asian Americans weren't included in the Pew study because there were not enough respondents to draw statistically reliable conclusions.
Among the Pew findings:
• Twitter, Instagram are popular among blacks. Among black Internet users, 26% use Twitter, far outpacing whites (14%) and Hispanics (19%). In August 2011, 18% of black Internet users were using Twitter.
Across all groups, younger and urban Twitter users outnumber their older and rural counterparts. But the usage rate generally held steady - around 14% to 17% - regardless of gender, education and income levels.
Wayne Sutton, a social-media consultant and blogger at SocialWayne.com, says Twitter enables "a level playing field in getting (black Americans') voices heard."
"With the history of our culture, we now have an equal channel like anyone else," he says. "We are also some of the largest consumers of entertainment and sports. And that's a lot of what is said on social media by us."
Blacks' usage of Instagram (23%) also outnumbered Hispanics' (18%) and whites' (11%).
"African Americans and Hispanics are leading the way in terms of buying smartphones or tablets," Sutton says. He pointed to a March 2012 Nielsen study that says 54.4% of black phone owners and 57.3% of Hispanic phone owners own smartphones vs. 44.7% for whites.
Women outnumbered men in Instagram usage - 16% vs. 10%.
• Women favor Pinterest. The gender difference in social-media usage was most noticeable in Pinterest, an online pinboard. A quarter of female Internet users are on Pinterest vs. 5% of men.
"In the earliest days of Pinterest, the site was organized around topics that were especially attractive to women - fashion, food, crafts, shopping," says Lee Rainie of the Pew Research Center.
Overall, 15% of Internet users have tried the virtual scrapbooking site.
Nearly seven out of 10 Internet users in the U.S. use Facebook. Microblogging site Tumblr draws only 6%.