A new study by the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project shows that 54% of internet users have posted original photos or videos to websites and 47% share photos or videos they found elsewhere online.
The mobile landscape has also added to photo and video sharing, with apps such as Snapchat and Instagram capitalising on the ubiquity of cell phones and smartphones that make it simple to upload and share images.
According to the findings, some 9% of cell phone owners use Snapchat and 18% use Instagram - this is the first time the Pew Internet Project has asked cell owners about Snapchat and Instagram.
“Sharing photos and videos online adds texture, play, and drama to people’s interactions in their social networks,” says Pew Internet’s Maeve Duggan, author of a report on the new findings.
“Pictures document life from a special angle, whether they relate to small moments, personal milestones, or larger news and events.
"Mobile connectivity has brought these visuals into countless lives in real-time. This all adds up to a new kind of collective digital scrapbook with fresh forms of storytelling and social bonding.”
Posting and sharing photos and videos is especially popular among women. Some 59% of online women post photos and videos they have taken themselves, while 53% share visual content they found elsewhere on the web.
Young people are also especially likely to take and share photos and videos online, including on mobile apps.
Among internet users ages 18-29, 81% have uploaded original multi-media, while 68% have reposted photos or videos they found elsewhere online. Some 26% of cell owners age 18-29 use Snapchat, while 43% use Instagram.
“A lot of photo- and video-sharing is happening on social media, where women are historically more likely to be users," Duggan says.
"In terms of mobile, young people have always been early and eager adopters of new apps and platforms for sharing.
“Ultimately, these platforms enable new expressions of a very traditional human impulse to capture and share moments from our lives.”