In theory, social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace should help college students meet new people outside their existing social groups and help students who live at home expand their horizons.
But a new study suggests that students use the sites largely to communicate with people they already know, and tend to use such sites along racial and ethnic lines. And the study shows that students who live at home actually use the sites less than those who live on campus.
A study shows that the social networking sites that students choose has much to do with race.
Use of social networking sites varies by race and ethnicity, a new Northwestern University study found. Many students use more than one site. Here are results of a survey showing the percentage of each race that uses each site.
Race -- Facebook, MySpace
Whites -- 83 percent, 57 percent
Hispanics -- 60 percent, 73 percent
Blacks -- 84 percent, 58 percent
Asian Americans -- 84 percent, 39 percent
Also, 13 percent of Asian Americans used Xanga and 10 percent used Friendster, compared with less than 3 percent for other groups.
The study, by Northwestern University assistant communications Professor Eszter Hargittai, was published recently in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. Hargittai surveyed 1,000 students at the University of Illinois at Chicago about their use of social networking sites.