First Week Pizza Survey Results

For the fourth consecutive year we surveyed one-Ls during First Week library tours about their use of digital communication tools. Nearly 640 students responded to questions about what form of electronic communication they used most often; what social networking site they used and how often; whether they subscribed to or read blogs or RSS feeds; how often they listened to podcasts; what type of computer and which web browser they used most often; and whether they have used e-books. This year’s survey also asked which electronic devices students owned (including Blackberries, iPhones, other smart phones, iPads, and e-book readers), which search engine they used most often, and how often they used a different search engine to repeat a search seeking different or additional results. And, as always, we asked for their favorite pizza topping. The four years of data are beginning to reflect certain trends.

  • E-mail use continues to plummet vis-à-vis text messaging as the preferred means of written electronic communication among members of the class of 2013/14. The percentage of those favoring e-mail fell this year to 45%, down from 55% in 2009, 62% in 2008, and 67% in 2007. At the same time, entering students’ preference for text messaging rose to 43%, up from 35% in 2009, 31% in 2008 and 24% in 2007.
  • Facebook is continuing to grow in dominance and importance. Not only did 89% of survey respondents name it as the social networking site they use most often, but more and more of those using it are using it more and more often; frequency of use increased again this year, with 46% reporting logging on to the site more than once per day, compared to 2009 (39%) and 2008 (28%).
  • While 41% of this year’s class subscribe to or read blogs (up from 36% in 2009 and 32% in 2008), the number of students subscribing to or reading RSS feeds remained small, at just 11%, on par with 2008’s figure but down from nearly 14% in 2008.
  • Podcast use presented a mixed bag: while 25% of respondents downloaded or listened to 1-5 podcasts during the year (continuing a downward trend compared to 29% in 2009 and 32% in 2008), those who downloaded or listened to more than 5 podcasts increased to 18%, slightly more than the 16% figure from both 2008 and 2009.
  • The popularity of Macs compared to PCs continued a steady climb, rising to 48% from 38% in 2009 and 31% in 2008.
  • Internet Explorer continued to lose popularity while both Safari and Google Chrome made big gains as browsers of choice. The latter two (31% and 12%), along with Firefox (36%), are now the choice of nearly 80% of respondent users.
  • A new question this year asked which search engine respondents use most often. Not surprisingly, 93% identified Google. Interestingly, 44% of those surveyed “sometimes” use a different search engine to perform an identical search after receiving results from an initial search, perhaps recognizing that individual search engines can have limitations and failings. An additional 8% “usually” use another search engine to supplement their results and nearly 5% “always” do so.
  • Another new question asked students which among certain specified electronic devices they owned. Among “smart phones,” Blackberry holds a 40% share compared to the iPhone at 22% and “other” smart phones at 17%. Less than 5% of respondents own an iPad and less than 4% own an e-book reader. A surprising 12% owned none of the five devices.
  • Use of e-books (via a computer or any other electronic device) showed an unexpected drop-off –- 42% compared to last year’s 56%.
  • Finally, after years of dominance as students’ favorite pizza topping, pepperoni (21.63%) lost its crown to cheese (23.20%). Mushrooms repeated as a contender with 10.66%.

For more information and the complete survey results, click here.