SOURCE: eMarketer

February 08, 2006 09:00 ET

Online Social Networking Soars on College Campuses

eMarketer Goes Back to School to Learn About Social Interactions

NEW YORK, NY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- February 8, 2006 -- According to eMarketer's new report, "College Students Online: Social Networks and the Net Generation," there are upwards of 14 million college students online.

Students embrace technology for social interaction in a way unlike any other generation before them. Constantly wired, they are avid users of mobile phones, text messaging and instant messaging. And perhaps the biggest craze on campus today is online social networking, with students flocking to sites such as MySpace and Facebook.

"Social networking has caught the college crowd by storm, verging on an obsession," says Debra Aho Williamson, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the report. "On many college campuses, this form of networking has become such a mainstay of social life that students sign up even before they start their freshman year."

The sites are addictive, with students often spending hours every week adding friends to their personal pages, joining virtual groups and checking their personal pages for messages.

To understand this complex, tech-savvy demographic more fully, eMarketer went back to campus and conducted interviews with students at colleges across the US.

"I'm online all the time," says Nick, 22, a senior majoring in international studies and religion, in an interview with eMarketer. "I've got it on my cellphone; I go on in between classes. It's always on."

MySpace and Facebook were second and third-fastest growing sites, respectively, on the Web last year, according to Nielsen//NetRatings.

Despite its popularity, social networking is still a work in progress as an ad vehicle. It faces challenges including privacy and safety concerns and the potential for backlash from colleges and universities. There's also the issue of whether these sites will keep students interested beyond the current fad.

"Universities are growing more and more concerned about the safety of their students who publish sensitive personal information online, and are increasingly getting involved in how students use social networking sites," Ms. Williamson said. "But social networking is sustained by its users. If the attraction fades, or if students move on, a site can fade as quickly as a party when the last keg has run out."

Issues & questions included in the "College Students Online" report include:

--  How are college students using the Internet and mobile phones?
--  Why is social networking so popular?
--  What marketing opportunities does social networking offer?
--  How will students use technology after graduation?
--  And many more...
For more information on "College Students Online: Social Networks and the Net Generation," visit eMarketer online at

About eMarketer

eMarketer is "the First Place to Look" for market research information related to e-business, online marketing and emerging technologies. eMarketer aggregates and analyzes e-business research from over 1,700 sources and brings it together in one place. This research is presented in analyst reports and the "eStat Database" -- the most comprehensive compilation of up-to-date e-business and online marketing statistics in the world. For more information, visit

Contact Information

  • Media Inquiries:
    Debra Aho Williamson
    Senior Analyst
    Email Contact