Social networks are actually more positive places than expected

Summary:A key reason as to why more people have positive experiences on social networks could have something to do with age and just being more mature when in a somewhat public arena.

Perhaps there really is something to be said about only having "Like" and "+1" buttons on social networks rather than adding on their negative counterparts.

That's because the tone of most social networks is actually quite positive, according to a new report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Approximately 85 percent of adults on social networks replied that their experiences on these sites are "mostly kind," while 5 percent responded with "unkind" experiences and another 5 percent saying it depends on the situation.

However, a key reason why more people have positive experiences on social networks could have something to do with age and just being more mature when in a somewhat public arena.

The Pew report explains, "Adults are generally more positive and less negative than teens about the behavior of others and their own experiences on social networking sites."

That became more evident when comparing this study to another Pew report specifically about teenagers. Overall, the two surveys demonstrated that 41 percent of teens on social networking sites have had at least one bad experience in this virtual space, compared with 26 percent of the SNS-using adults.

Of course, adults have reported some bad times on Facebook and beyond themselves, with small percentages reporting having ended friendships online, getting into trouble at work because of something a friend said online, and even getting into physical altercations in the real world based on something online.

Nevertheless, these instances represented small fractions of the adult respondents.

Along with the age factor, another reason (not explained in the Pew report) as to why people have more positive experiences on social networks is that they're really using these platforms to put their best image out there.

It's quite easy to project who you want to be seen as with a Google+ profile or a carefully curated Tumblr page. (The big exception where people might be really loose cannons is Twitter, where we often see people frequently and carelessly post 140-character posts only to delete them later.)

But let's be honest. Everyone gets annoyed with the Facebook and Twitter contacts we have that are frequently posting depressing and emo updates, so who wants to be that person either?


Topics: Telcos, Hardware, Mobility, Networking


Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider,, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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