the sixth consecutive year the Mendik Library surveyed 1Ls during First
Week library tours about their use of digital communication tools.
Below is a quick summary of the results. You can see all the survey
questions (and the responses) here.
In addition to telling us their favorite pizza topping
(answer below), 411 members of the class of 2015/16 responded to questions
their preferences in electronic
their social networking
their usage of Blogs,
RSSfeeds, Podcasts, E-Books, and
the types of electronic devices
(Smartphones, Tablets, E-BookReaders,
etc.) they owned.
Some of the trends we have noted before are continuing
– an increased use of social media, an increasing dominance of
Google in web searching and beyond, and the increased popularity of
Macs versus PCs. E-Book usage is advancing slowly, but
don’t expect students to emerge as big followers of Blogs.
And, the students you see with headphones or ear buds? Chances
are good they are not listening to Podcasts.
For the first time since we introduced
the survey in 2007, the percentage of students whose preferred
means of written electronic communication was
E-mail has actually increased to just over
40%, following five years of steady decline, from a high of 67%
(2007) to last year’s low of 37%.
At the same time, a preference for
mobile-based text messaging continued to rise, reaching a new high
of 49%. This result is consistent with the findings of a Pew Internet
& American Life Project 2011 study detailing that 73% of American
adults who own cell phones (83% of Americans) send and receive text
messages. The study further found that young adults between
the ages of 18 and 24 averaged nearly 110 texts per day, translating
to more than 3,200 per month. Though probably unrelated, the
increased usage of E-mail was accompanied by a distinct drop-off in
the use of BlackBerry Messaging, which fell from 6% in 2011
to just under 1% this year.
Although Facebook remains
the dominant social networking site for these students, favored by
nearly 75%, it has lost a bit of ground to relative newcomers
Google+ (4%) and Instagram (2%), as well as LinkedIn
(3%) and Twitter (4%). At the same time, almost 11% of the
class is not using any social networking site, up from 8% last
Significantly, this class is also using
their social networking sites of choice more than predecessor
classes, with 52% claiming use more than once per day, the fifth
straight year witnessing an increase.
Our survey included questions about
Twitter for only the second time, and the results reflect its
increasing prevalence. The number of students who have a
Twitter account jumped from 38% in 2011 to 46% in 2012.
Tweeting on Twitter has remained relatively steady but the
number of Twitterfeeds students follow has increased
modestly – those following more than five feeds increased from
26% to 32% and the number following between one and five feeds
increased from 5% to 8%. We would expect both types of
Twitter usage to increase over time.
Despite the passage of time, neither
Blogs nor RSSfeeds are capturing the hearts and
minds of these students. The numbers of students who arrived at
NYLS as subscribers to or readers of Blogs dropped from 35% in
2011 to 29% in 2012.
Podcasts seem to be losing what little
intermittent traction they had been developing. The
percentage of students who downloaded or listened to 1-5 Podcasts
dropped from 28% in 2011 to 20% in 2012. Although the
percentage of students who downloaded or listened to more than five
Podcasts increased marginally (from 14% to 15%), the number of
students who did not know what a Podcast was reached its highest
level ever, 13% (up from 7% in 2011).
Continuing what had already been a
steady trend, the popularity of Macs compared to PCs
increased, jumping to 57% from 51% in 2011.
When it comes to web browsers, all three
majors (Firefox, InternetExplorer, and
Safari) lost a little ground to GoogleChrome,
used by 29% of incoming students. Firefox fell from 24%
in 2011 to 23%; IE fell slightly from 16.3% 15.6%; and
Safari fell from 28% to 27%.
When asked which search engine they use
most often, respondents again identified Google by a wide
margin (92%), with Yahoo a mere 2% and Bing and
AOL each barely achieving 1%.
For just the third time, we asked
students which among certain specified electronic devices they
BlackBerry lost significant ground again this year (from 32%
to 15%) to both the iPhone and the Android. That
does not come as much of a surprise. An October 16, 2012 New
York Times article titled “The BlackBerry as Black
Sheep” noted that in the United States, BlackBerrys accounted
for less than 5% of the Smartphone market, down from 50% three years
iPhone ownership saw a large uptick, from 37%
in 2011 to 62% in 2012, while Android ownership remained
steady at 21%.
Ownership of an iPad or
other Tablet device nearly doubled this year, from 16% to
30%. That result tracks the nationwide trend: according
to a September 2012 Pew Research Center Internet & American Life
Project report, 25% of adult Americans own a Tablet
Ownership of E-BookReaders, however, which now compete against Tablets
for readers of E-Books, increased only marginally, from 14% to
16%. In 2010, the first year this question was posed,
E-Book Reader ownership was at only 4%.
Along with the increasing ownership of
Tablet devices, more students are taking advantage of
E-Books – 59% (up from 48% in 2011) said they have used
their computer or another electronic device (e.g., iPad or
other Tablet, Kindle, Nook, SonyReader
or Smartphone application) to view an E-Book. Here, our
students seem to be at the front of the curve: another recent
Pew Internet & American Life Project study found that 20% of U.S.
adults read an E-Book in the past year.
Finally, after last year’s brief
upset, Pepperoni regained its long-standing crown as
students’ favorite pizza topping, pulling in 30% of the vote
compared to ExtraCheese the nearest contender with
13%. At 11%, Mushrooms repeated, again, as a third place
A Tasty Aside Although we can’t say they got the idea from
us, Zagat released the results of its own first-ever Pizza Survey
this past June. According to Zagat, 38% of Americans point to
pepperoni as their favorite topping. Not surprisingly, New
York-style thin crust pizza was the most popular across the country,
amassing a similar 38% of the vote. Brick oven came in at
23%, Neapolitan grabbed 13%, while Chicago-style deep-dish pizza brought
up the rear at 8%. Zagat asked no questions about digital
communication but they did include a question asking which toppings
are the grossest. The winner? Anchovies. Pineapple
and Broccoli finished in second and third place, respectively.
You can find the whole Zagat survey here.