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Facebook research: What our usage reveals about us

Christina DesMarais | April 2, 2013
Here’s a roundup of recent research on the social network, evaluating how much we’re using Facebook, whether it’s good at work, what it does to our egos, and more.

Facebook is hot--or not, depending when and whom you ask. But there's no shortage of people talking about the merits and demerits of the social network, especially researchers who love to dig into how it's helping or hurting its users.

Here's the latest roundup of what they're saying about how much we're using Facebook, if it's good to have at work, what it does to our egos, and more.

IDC: People check Facebook like crazy

This week the market research firm IDC released findings from a Facebook-sponsored study it conducted regarding how people use their smartphones.

The online survey polled nearly 7500 iPhone and Android users younger than 45 and found that, on average, people use their phones for nearly 14 sessions totaling more than 32 minutes on Facebook every day.

Nearly half of the respondents said they use the social network while running errands, shopping, preparing meals, and working out, as well as during class, eating out, at an event, and at the movies. (Postscript: IDC is owned by IDG, which also owns TechHive and PCWorld.)

It's too bad the survey didn't include input from teens. At least in my house, they say Twitter and Instagram are where everyone in high school is hanging these days. In fact, even though Facebook owns Instagram, Facebook CFO David Ebersman recently said Facebook considers its photo-sharing service to be a competitor.

UK Study: Social media at work isn't a bad thing

Researchers at the Warwick Business School in the United Kingdom say the plethora of devices and social media at people's fingertips actually help them be more productive on the job.

After studying British, Finnish and German tech companies they determined that the many ways workers now have to communicate allow them to be more flexible and effective.

"We found that the ubiquitous digital connectivity altered workers' sense of 'presence' and helped rather than hindered the effective completion of collective tasks," said Professor Joe Nandhakumar. "This study also indicates that such digital connectivity afforded workers much greater latitude and control over their timing and location of their work."

Universities: Facebook boosts egos

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and Cornell University say social networks such as Facebook are popular because "Facebook profiles are self-affirming in the sense of satisfying users' need for self-worth and self-integrity."

They also found that "Facebook users gravitate toward their online profiles after receiving a blow to the ego, in an unconscious effort to repair their perceptions of self-worth."

Cambridge/Microsoft: What "like" reveals

More than 58,000 Facebook users let researchers at Cambridge's Psychometrics Centre and Microsoft Research Cambridge analyze their likes and profiles along with data from personality tests.


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