This year’s report from the Center for the Digital Future at the USC Annenberg School for Communication shows that online communities are becoming very important to Americans. Here are some excerpts of the soon to be released study.
Membership in online communities has more than doubled in only three years. More than half of online community members (54 percent) log into their community at least once a day, and 71 percent of members said their community is very important or extremely important to them. Fifty- six percent of members reported meeting their online counterparts in person.
The study found that participation in online community membership has particularly dramatic effects on participation in social causes. Three-quarters of online community members said they use the Internet to participate in communities related to social causes, with 40 percent saying that they use the Internet at least monthly to participate in such communities. Eighty-seven percent of online community members are participating in social causes that are new to them since their involvement in online communities began.
And, a large and growing percentage of members — now 55 percent — say they feel as strongly about their online communities as they do about their real-world communities.
Clearly, the growth of online communities is opening a range of opportunities for social connection, involvement and communication that could not have been anticipated even five years ago.