The Scrolling Beyond Binaries survey has been open for three months now, and we have had over 1200 responses! Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to complete the survey and circulate it. This great response and the depth that many respondents went into when answering open-ended questions really demonstrates for us the significance of this kind of research, and that young LGBTIQ+ Australians have something to say about the role of social media in their lives. Social media help us connect, tell stories about ourselves, and find people like us in a world that isn’t always friendly or welcoming for young queer and gender diverse people.
While we are going to keep the survey open, our attention now turns to the next parts of the project. First, we will continue analysing the survey data, and we have a very preliminary report on some of this data here. Second, we are also now moving into the qualitative phase of the project where we interview some of the people who volunteered at the end of the survey. We currently have 145 volunteers!
So what have we found from the survey thus far?
In this post I am going to briefly outline some preliminary key findings around social media use, and also give some basic demographic data on our respondents. Stay tuned for further blog posts on a range of different topics related to the project. We are also working on more academic writing – journal articles and book chapters – that we will share here when available.
Who are our participants?
Our sample is definitely skewed towards the younger end of our age range, with almost half of our respondents falling into the 16 or 17 year old bracket.
Why might we have more younger participants than older ones? Did our survey just find its way to more teenagers? Perhaps teenagers have more to say about social media? Maybe LGBTIQ+ people in their twenties and thirties have less time, less interest, or perhaps feel less included in the ‘youth’ category, or maybe they are sick of surveys. We know many LGBTIQ+ people are ‘over-researched’. We’ll be reflecting more on this as we go.
In terms of gender identity, almost half of our respondents identified as female (45%), and around a quarter as male (26%). What is really interesting is the number of people who identify as non-binary (20%) or chose to define their own identities (9%).
In terms of where our respondents are in Australia, as expected there were concentrations in big cities or urban areas (65%), but we also had a good number of respondents who describe themselves as living in regional (25%) or rural (10%) areas. In the heat map below, you can see where our respondents were mostly concentrated. We had a good number of respondents outside the capital cities, but I haven’t included locations of single respondents in more regional areas to protect their anonymity.
What social media are they using?
Overwhelmingly, Facebook is the most dominant form of social media. Almost all (97%) reported using Facebook, with Instagram (70%), Snapchat (67%), Tumblr (64%), and Twitter (49%) following. YouTube is a curious one, as 84% of our respondents reported using it, but 75% of those YouTube users reported using it just to watch or listen, rather than actively producing content or even writing comments themselves. We will have much more to say on this in the future too.
Hook-up or dating apps play an important role in the social media landscape for many young LGBTIQ+ people in Australia. Tinder was the most popular (21%), followed by Grindr (11%), OkCupid (7%), Her (6%), Scruff (5%), and a range of others. One of the interesting findings we want to explore further is the role of hook-up or dating apps as platforms for finding friends, which many of our respondents reported. We will also be looking at the use of hook-up or dating apps in relation to different gender identities and sexualities: Do gay men use hook-up apps more? What kind of hook-up apps do non-binary and trans people use? We can look at a range of factors including relationship status and time spent on each platform to answer some interesting questions here.
We also asked respondents which (if any) platforms they felt ‘always connected’ to. While Facebook was still on top here (79%), Snapchat was second (38%). We are in the process of looking at how variables like age, sexuality, and gender identity might have an impact on this sense of feeling always connected, and what this might mean for a broader sense of belonging, community, or experiences of abuse and harassment, which we also asked about.
That’s all for now, but I hope this gives you a little sneak peak into some of the data we’ve been looking at. What I’ve covered here no doubt raises many many more questions than it answers, so stay tuned for more. If you want to get updates on future posts and news, please subscribe by entering your email address into the form on the right.
Thanks for reading!