The homeless feel accepted when engaging in social media, it’s a place where no one can judge them and they can find a sense of support and acceptance.
Alexis Madrigal (@alexismadrigal), senior editor at The Atlantic, shares with us a small, but intriguing study on the use of social media by homeless youth. Social scientists found that 75 percent of the homeless youth they surveyed use social networks and that their usage patterns were remarkably similar to college students.
Led by the University of Alabama’s Rosanna Guadagno (@RosannaEG), they surveyed 237 college kids and 65 homeless youth, both with an average age of a little over 19 years old. While a greater percentage of the students were on social networks (over 90 percent), both groups of users reported spending more than an hour per day using Facebook, Twitter, and the like.
The study found no digital divide when it came to homeless youth.
Since it is clear that the proportions of undergraduates and homeless young adults accessing social networking sites are similar, we assert that the term digital divide is not descriptive of the young adult population.
The homeless are using social media to connect with family, friends, and others just like those Americans who have more.
The homeless are also using social networking sites such a Facebook to sort out practical issues such as where they can find a place to sleep, where they can find job services , and where to find places to receive their next meal. Whether they use social media on a mobile phone or at a library, they are connecting and benefiting.
I’ve had personal experience helping a homeless person via social media. Twitter allowed me to connect and help a homeless woman in Chicago last November.
Looks like social media is one thing in reach for the all Americans. Kind of amazing.