Survey: 75% of Homeless Youth Use at Least One Social Network

By Alexis C. Madrigal

Even without a roof over their heads, young adults find ways to access the Internet.

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Reuters

In a small but intriguing study, social scientists found that 75 percent of the homeless youth they surveyed use social networks and that their usage patterns were remarkably similar to college students. 

Led by the University of Alabama's Rosanna Guadagno, they surveyed 237 college kids and 65 homeless youth, both with an average age of a little over 19 years old. While a greater percentage of the students were on social networks (over 90 percent), both groups of users reported spending more than an hour per day using Facebook, Twitter, and the like. 

Guadagno argues that the results should lead us to rethink the concept of the digital divide of Internet haves and have nots. "To the extent that our findings show a 'digital divide' between undergraduates at a four-year university and age-matched participants in a program for homeless young adults, it is mainly in types of Internet use and not access to the Internet, and that divide is relatively minor," we read. "Since it is clear that the proportions of undergraduates and homeless young adults accessing social networking sites are similar, we assert that the term digital divide is not descriptive of the young adult population."

The work appeared online this week in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/08/survey-75-of-homeless-youth-use-at-least-one-social-network/261817/