Pew Internet Director Lee Rainie and Lead Research Specialist Aaron Smith recently published a report about the social media phenomenon Twitter. The full report is available online at http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/Twitter-Update-2010/Findings/Overview.aspx  The research had been conducted from 3 – 24 November 2010, with 2,257 adult internet users (>18 years old) through tracking survey and phone interview. Today 8 percent of North Americans use Twitter. According to their report, interestingly, Twitter is most popular with 1) young adults, 2) minorities, 3) female, and 4) urban residents

See the table of Twitter use by demographic group by clicking the link below.

http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/Twitter-Update-2010/Findings/~/media/D38778143AE94117801829AF2A5E4AA3.jpg?w=530&h=780&as=1

1) Young adults
The most active age group of Twitter users are young adults aged between 18 and 29. Fourteen per cent of them are using Twitter. This rate is much higher than any other age groups. The second highest group is the age group between 30 and 49 that recorded 7 percent only.

2) Minorities
The statistics above shows that 18 percent of Hispanic and 13 per cent of Black (non-Hispanic) use Twitter. This rate is higher than white (non-Hispanic) users that recorded 5 percent only.

3) Female
Eight per cent of USA internet adult users are Twitter users. Women users recorded 10 per cent, while men users 7 per cent.

4)  Urban residents
Urban residents (11 percent) are twice or more as likely to use Twitter as rural area residents (5 percent).

So what does all this data mean? Well the data allows us to roughly outline the cultural tendencies of Twitter users, although the report does not discuss this. The four mentioned groups are commonly characterised by the following features. 1) They are all the minorities in power. Online communication reflects their demands for power-sharing (less hierarchy) and autonomy that often create conflict offline; 2) they are sharing high feminine cultural characteristics rather than masculine characteristics. They tend to resolve conflict through negotiation. Online communication helps reduce the power distance and encourage more negotiatory activities based on intimate communication; finally 3) they prefer more collectivist-driven culture rather than individualistic. In collectivist cultures, people act as a member of a long-term group and prioritise to maintain their cultural values and beliefs.

With this brief cultural interpretation of the survey results, we can see that social network sites (SNSs) like Twitter welcome more community-driven activities. Therefore, if you plan to use SNSs in your teaching, you need to carefully think about what will be your roles in the predominant SNS cultures and what cultural values and system your students (and you) will develop through activities.