updated 11/15/2011 6:19:45 PM ET 2011-11-15T23:19:45

The most common reason U.S. consumers use social networking sites is to stay in touch with family and friends ―more than to reconnect with old friends and keep tabs on celebrities, a new survey finds.

In a survey for the Pew Internet & American Life Project, nearly two-thirds of social media users reported that staying in touch is a major reason they use these sites. The respondents were allowed to choose more than one major reason, and half of them said connecting with old friends they’d lost touch with is very important, too.

Other possible reasons drew much smaller responses. Fourteen percent said they use social networking sites to connect around a shared hobby or interest. Older users ages 50 to 64 were more likely (18 percent) to connect around shared interests than were users who are 18 to 29 (10 percent).

The phone survey was conducted among 2,277 social network users ages 18 and older and had a 3 percent margin of error.

Twitter users especially enjoy connecting with public figures, the study found. One in nine (11 percent) said reading comments by celebrities or politicians is a major reason they use social networking sites, while only 4 percent of non-Twitter users cited it as a major reason.

Meanwhile, only 3 percent of respondents said they use sites such as Facebook and Twitter to find potential romantic or dating partners. [Read: Facebook Essential to Dating]

“Some social networkers view these sites as venues for making new friends and connections,” senior research specialist Aaron Smith, author of the report, said in a statement. “But for the majority, social networking sites are most important as a way to share and communicate with friends and family who are already key social ties.

"Activities such as meeting potential dating partners or interacting with public figures are much less relevant than deepening bonds with those who are already important.”

Reach TechNewsDaily senior writer Samantha Murphy at Follow her on Twitter @SamMurphy_TMN

© 2012 TechNewsDaily


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