Poll shows social networks used for study, friendships

Tuesday, April 19, 2011 | 12:00 p.m. CDT

WASHINGTON — Young people use social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter to do more than simply stay in touch with their friends; they're also using them as a means to make school and career connections, according to an Associated Press-Viacom poll.

Four out of five high school and college students say websites are an excellent or good way to interact with fellow students, and a bit fewer — about seven in 10 — say they're equally good for getting information on class assignments or school events, or to form study groups and collaborate with peers. Just over half say the Internet is useful to research teacher ratings.

Among students who are employed, 62 percent say social networking is helpful in interactions with co-workers.

Even more, about nine in 10, say they see social networking as a tool to keep in touch with friends and family. And 74 percent say it's a good way to distract themselves.

When it comes to the impact of various media on their education, students rank the Internet on top, with 53 percent saying it has a "big effect." Printed books followed closely at 51 percent. Television lagged at 24 percent, with newspapers, radio, movies and magazines ranking farther down.

Students said laptop computers were the top item they use in the classroom for note-taking, followed by smart phones, cameras, audio recorders, tablet computers and video cameras.