Study: 75 Percent Of Homeless Youth Use Online Social Media

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File photo of homeless. (THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images)

File photo of homeless. (THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images)

Tuscaloosa, Ala. (CBS ATLANTA) – A recent study finds that 75 percent of homeless youth use social networks to stay connected to others – a number comparable to that of college students.

The study, led by the University of Alabama’s Rosanna Guadagno, surveyed 237 college kids and 65 homeless youth that were an average of 19 years old, according to The Atlantic. A vast majority of both groups reported using social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook for at least one hour each day.

Over 90 percent of college students reported using social media programs for at least one hour every day.

Guadagno makes the argument that a “digital divide” in Internet access should be re-thought.

“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,” writes Guadagno, according to The Atlantic.

“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.”

Guadagno’s study comparing the use of such technology was originally published in the “Computers in Human Behavior” scientific journal.

Another recent study from the University of Dayton found that homeless youth are closely linked to social media in their daily lives. They don’t only use such networks for social contact and equality, but as a means to solve practical daily issues.

Art Jipson, the head of the Dayton study, found that the homeless use social media as a place where all people are treated “equally,” and through a series of interviews, discovered that it can also be a medium to find social services, somewhere to sleep and their next hot meal.

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