Social Media and Media Literacy

According to Nielsen Americans spend about 6 hrs a month on social networks such as twitter and Facebook (“Time spent social networking up 82%”, 2010). Americans currently spend 23% of their time online on social networking sites (Hickey, 2010). Nielsen also has data on world wide internet users, “The latest global research from Nielsen reveals the average internet user now spends over five and a half hours per month on social networking sites, representing an increase of 82% since the same time last year.” (“Time spent social networking up 82%”, 2010) If you think that big “200 million people use Facebook on mobile devices” (Carlson, 2010). According to Shuckla (2010) 48 percent of Americans “12 and older have a profile on one or more social networking sites.”

If we look at sites such as twitter its surprising to find that “Twitters users, on average, are 39 years old.” It is also surprising to note that 26% of people 60 and older have a social media account of some form (Average Twitter user Older Than Expected, 2010).

I believe that in this entire social media use there is a media literacy lesson. How much personal information online is too much? When do we draw the line? As Barlow (2010) points out “all this tweeting, friending, posting, and messaging carries privacy risks, ranging from fleeting embarrassment to all-out identity theft.” One example of a possible breach of privacy can be shown “In a recent experiment, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University were able to deduce the Social Security numbers of five million Americans born between 1989 and 2003, mining information that is typically shared on social networks and other data from publicly available sources.” (Barlow, 2010) Theoretically the process is possible when users put their full date of birth including year and the location where they were born. This information many users do not think is something they shouldn’t post, leaving them open to fraud.

There are many other pieces of information people never think about when they post. As my dad pointed out one day, you shouldn’t disclose when you are going on vacation to millions of people. If you stop the mail so that your neigbors don’t notice your missing why would you post it to millions of people, many of which may know where you live and what cool electronics you have. Which brings me to another point. Many people announce when they get a new game console or other expensive tech toy. I bet people don’t even notice when they put up a post on sites such as facebook and it says that your update was posted from and iPhone or BlackBerry. You are essentially telling the world by the way I have a smart phone.

If people were more media literate or maybe even media aware they would notice the very private information they are sharing with millions of people on the Internet.


Average Twitter User Older Than Expected – news from Bluhalo, a leading digital agency.. (2010, September 9). Bluhalo. Retrieved November 28, 2010, from

Barlow, R. (n.d.). Learning Not to Share — Bostonia Summer 2010. Boston University. Retrieved November 28, 2010, from

Carlson, N. (2010, November 3). 200 Million People Use Facebook Mobile – Up 3X From Last Year. Business Insider. Retrieved November 28, 2010, from–up-3x-from-last-year-2010-11

Hickey, A. (2010, August 2).Social Networking Dominates U.S. Web Use; Facebook Leads The Way. CNR. Retrieved November 28, 2010, from

Shukla, A. (2010, April 12). Study Says Half of Americans Have Profiles on Social Networking Sites. IP Communications. Retrieved November 28, 2010, from

Time spent social networking up 82%. (2010, January 25).Digital Media. Retrieved November 28, 2010, from

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One Response to Social Media and Media Literacy

  1. Brooke Hall says:

    This is very interesting. This makes me want to take some information off my facebook page and think twice before I post certain things.

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