Early results from the 2009 U.S. College Student Report indicate that, for the second year in a row, Facebook has taken the crown as that demographic's most-visited Web site. Making its surprising debut, at sixth place, is LiveJournal -- a clear indicator, says Tom Anderson, managing partner at Anderson Analytics, which conducted the survey, that blogging continues to be a popular channel, although more for personal purposes than for professional or academic ones.
Since its inception in 2005, the U.S. College Student Report has sought to capture the attitudes and behaviors of college students. Students participating in the study were encouraged to quickly answer a set of open-ended questions, Anderson says, in an attempt to capture their most top-of-mind preferences. Over 1,000 students with .edu email addresses, across 400 college and university campuses, participated.
Individual responses are mined using advanced text analytics to provide "insight into which advertisements, brands, and Web sites are most important among students," according to the report. This year, Anderson says, "was the first time that students seemed to talk about wanting world peace and having more of a concern with society." Even so, he adds, despite the fact that there was a war going on, students were still more focused on material goals -- namely, owning their own homes. While the mortgage crisis and difficulty in getting loans certainly played a part, Anderson says that he believes the shift reflects the emphasis on social responsibility embodied by Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign.
Celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton and the comedic site CollegeHumor.com dropped off this year's list, replaced by LiveJournal and CNN, which made its way into the top 10 for the first time, further supporting the notion that college students are taking a stronger interest in the world around them.
According to the study, the 10 most-visited sites among college students -- ranked in descending order -- are:
- Amazon.com; and
Anderson says that he found particularly reassuring the evidence that blogs continue to find support among the younger set. A recent article in Wired ("Twitter, Flickr, Facebook Make Blogs Look So 2004") had suggested that blogs might be losing their purpose, but Anderson says that there remains a clear demand for this social venue. In contrast to the 3 percent of adults who maintain their own blogs, the blogging bug seems to have bitten the college crowd a little harder, with 6 percent of male and 16 percent of female college students writing blogs. The fact that female students are three times more likely to blog than their male counterparts, Anderson notes, also points to a "change in who's influencing, in terms of gender. It's going on now and I think [it's] going to have far-reaching effect in the future."
With plans to interview a few members of this panel, Anderson hopes to paint a more detailed picture of the face of Gen Y blogging. For now, he says, it's clear that they are keeping blogging alive in their relatively uninhibited online personas and willingness to share. "They're so open," he adds. "They're putting up pictures of their dorm rooms, their friends. There's so much information you can get."
Security, however, continues to be a topic of conversation among the younger crowd. "They have a different idea of what privacy and security [are]," Anderson says. "If you ask them about those issues, they'll say they're important or very important." Despite those public responses about privacy concerns, college students continue to share detailed information about their personal life, which has undoubtedly whet the appetites of spammers as well as legitimate advertisers looking to find a balance between relevance and intrusion.
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