Student-Athletes By The Numbers On Social Media

We have the advantage of living in a data boom. Want to know the best time of day to tweet, the best length for a Facebook post, or the top age group on Facebook? There’s data for that.

Because part of my agency’s business is facilitating social media workshops for student-athletes and coaches, I have the opportunity to collect the latest data on how student-athletes are using social media. Now that our fall social media training workshops are concluded I thought it would be interesting to take a look at how this year’s class of athletes approach social media use.

The respondents: As part of our social media training, we ask the participants to take a short survey on their social media habits. Here’s a look at who participated this fall: 86% of workshop participants attend NCAA Division I schools and 14% attend NCAA Division III schools. I did not find any significant difference in responses from student-athletes in smaller and larger schools, or between different sports.


The student-athlete populations I trained congregate mainly on five channels: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Yik Yak. The only other channel to show up in any significant number was Pinterest—used by 11% of the female athletes.

Which social media platforms do you use?

social media platforms

Even though Facebook is the channel with the largest number of profiles, it is not used as actively as any of the other networks shown above. The majority of respondents use two or more social media channels. A small percentage (less than 20 percent) use more than four.


After doing some research on safety and risk behaviors last year, I decided to add a module on cyberharassment to all my social media training workshops. I am interested in the correlation between responsible social media habits and the prevalence rates of cyberharassment. The survey included a few questions on risk behaviors identified in my research.

How many student-athletes protect their Twitter account?

Protected twitter accounts

This percentage is doubled from the workshops I facilitated in the 2013-14 school year. It’s a good sign that student-athletes are making smarter decisions about their personal privacy on social media. Student-athletes who protect their Twitter accounts reported a lower incidence of online cyberharassment.

Do you know all your followers on social media?

Know All Your Followers

Student-athletes who knew all their followers also reported a lower incidence of online cyberharassment.

Have you been a victim of online harassment such as unsolicited inappropriate material, account impersonation, angry fans messaging you, or cyberbullying?


Considering the results of this informal research, I continue to suggest that all social media training should include information about cyberharassment—the risk behaviors involved and how student-athletes and coaches can lower their risk by making more responsible social media choices. In addition, I encourage all athletics administrators and higher education administrators to have clear and concise procedures in place for dealing with cyberharassment.

Be sure and contact me if you have any questions at