AAAI Publications, Twelfth International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media

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Net Benefits: Digital Inequities in Social Capital, Privacy Preservation, and Digital Parenting Practices of U.S. Social Media Users
Elissa M. Redmiles

Last modified: 2018-06-15


Social media adoption has been shown to exhibit digital inequality: sociodemographic background has been highly correlated with usage rates. As social media use has also been shown to correlate with important benefits, chiefly social capital, low adoption rates can mean a portion of the population is not receiving these benefits. In this work, we examine the equity of social media benefits among users, introducing and validating the existence of two new social media benefits: learning of privacy-preserving behaviors and parental engagement in children's social media use; and explore the equity of their distribution among social media users. To draw generalizable conclusions, we use a probabilistic telephone survey (n=3,000), weighted to represent the responses of the U.S. population within 2.7%. We encouragingly find no difference in adoption of social media based on education and find that lower-income users are more likely to use social media. Yet, we find an inequality in benefits: older and less educated social media users report lower degrees of nearly all examined benefits. Further, we find preliminary suggestion of an inherited digital inequality: parents who use social media, especially those who are more educated and higher paid, are more likely both to help their children set up privacy settings and teach them safe posting behaviors.


digital divide; social media; parenting; survey; advice; social capital; privacy; security

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