Institute for Public Affairs (IVO) has introduced the results of an analytical and monitoring project titled Social Network Sites in Slovakia. The project aimed to uncover to what extent the Slovak population is influenced by this communication medium, and was carried out thanks to the support of the Telecom Endowment Fund in cooperation with the Pontis Foundation.
Based on the findings of the world-wide representative research conducted on a sample of 1,135 respondents older than 14 years of age, 54 percent of the population in Slovakia uses social network sites (SNS) and another quarter is aware of the SNS, but does not actively use them. Re research also showed that one-fifth of the population is not aware that social network sites exist at all.
The usage of social network sites is influenced mainly by factors such as age, education level attained, economic activity (employment), income, and the type of household. For example, while over 90% of the population in the 14 – 24 category actively uses SNS, this number gradually drops with increasing age. Among the 45 – 54 year olds, the share of SNS usage hovers only around 45 percent, and decreases even further to 8 % in the group over 60 years of age. We can see a similar trend when we replace "age" with "education attained" as a determinant for exposure to social network sites. While among the college-educated population the share of those active on SNS is relatively high at 75 percent, and among high-school graduates (graduation with final exam), their share is 67 percent. Those with just vocational training attained showed only a 45 percent SNS usage, while the share of those with only primary education who use social network sites reaches "only" 38 percent. In terms of economic activity and correlation with SNS usage, this was found to be the strongest among students – with 93 percent, white- collar employees (75 percent), women on maternity leave, and business people (61 % and 64 % respectively).
The importance of social network sites is not only underlined by the finding that every other person in Slovakia uses them, but also by the fact that this is the case also for every fifth person, putting the figure at 21% of those who use this form of communication daily. Yet another 17 percent of respondents have stated that they use SNS several times a week and 16 percent spends "less" time on social network sites (at the least once a week).
"The intensity of the usage of social network sites was found to be rising, the lower the age and higher the education attained by the respondents. Thus the younger and more educated the user is, the more intense his/her social network sites usage. We can see the same correlation when we look at the structure of income and household type. The more affluent the household and more young people and/or children in it, the intensity of social network sites usage is higher, and vice-versa," says Marián Velšic the project’s author.
Despite the great variation in SNS on offer to the user and practically unlimited regional access to them, there are 2 dominant social network sites visited in Slovakia: Facebook, presently at No. 1, used by 49 percent of the population above 14 years of age; and Pokec following in second place with 32 percent of users. The other SNS used include Windows Live, used by 6 % of the population, the micro-blogging site Twitter (4 %), MySpace (4 %), or LinkedIn (0.5 %). There are also other smaller sites with even lower shares of visitors.
It is also important to mention that more than 1/3 of the population regularly uses 2 to 3, or even more social network sites – most frequently Facebook along with Pokec, also in addition to other, more specialized networks.
In terms of activities pursued on social network sites, 52 percent of the population uses them for private communica-tion with friends; for presenting their views, sharing experiences; for making new contacts, etc. For additional 35 percent of users, SNS are mostly about fun; 34 percent uses them to follow news, including pop culture and politics; 34 percent for searching for information about goods and services; 19 percent for work-related and professional communication; 18 percent for communication related to school or study; and 14 percent for civic activities.
The latest IVO research on digital literacy of the population in 2011 showed that from among dozens of analyzed digital skills, the population’s ability to use SNS ranks as the less problematic one. Also here applies that the group of users with more intensive exposure/ user habits also has better developed digital literacy skills.
"The high share and intensity of the usage of social network sites, balanced online activities, and a good level of digital skills – all this provides a good basis for innovation and growth of information society as a whole. It is just this "popularity" of this modern form of communication combined with its multi-media nature could in the near future become the driving force for increasing the overall level of the population’s digital literacy. The usage of social network sites or social media requires creativity, information-sharing, participation in the writing and publishing of content, usage of a broad range of applications, communication channels, and others. "To be connected on the social network" requires a lot more of the user than just the ability to use the computer as an intelligent writing instrument or to search for information," adds Marián Velšic.
Project Partner About the Project
"We at Slovak Telekom see social media as an important part of digital literacy because presently they represent a key platform for communication and presentation in the online world. In general, we are seeing a positive trend of technological advancements such as smartphones and tablets that are motivating people to improve their digital and communication skills. At Telekom, we are long-standing supporters of digital literacy and that is why we are glad to contribute to this first comprehensive study on social network sites in Slovakia."
Slovak Telekom Spokesperson for Technologies