Congressional staffers have age gap on social media

A survey of congressional staff members found some interesting differences in how the offices are using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Staff aides to members of Congress are adopting social media tools at a rapid pace to help advance the missions of their offices, but a significant age gap remains, according to a new research study.

Two-thirds of those staffers age 30 or younger feel social media is worth the offices’ time spent, while only 32 percent of the staffers aged 51 or older felt the same, states the study by the Congressional Management Foundation released July 26.

The findings are based on a survey of 260 staffers conducted from October through December 2010.

Congressional offices are using social media to help gauge public opinion and to communicate lawmakers’ views and activities, the survey states.

Of those surveyed, 64 percent said Facebook was somewhat or very important for understanding public opinion, while 42 percent named Twitter as similarly serving that purpose, and 34 percent named YouTube.

For the most important networks for communicating members’ views and activities, 74 percent of the staffers named Facebook, 72 percent named YouTube and 51 percent named Twitter.

More than one-third of the staffers surveyed said their offices spend too little time on social media activities such as online town hall meetings, videos and their official blog. Democrats were more likely than Republicans to say their offices do not spend enough time on online communications.