Use of social media by college students

8 August 2016

The purpose of this study was to examine social media use among college students and how it affects communication with others, and college students’ self-concept. In this study, students completed a questionnaire which assessed personal use of social media, communication skills with friends and family, and effects on self-concept. Results indicated that all of the sampled college students were using at least one form of social networking website. There was a . 586 Pearson correlation between usage of social media and communication with family and friends. There was a .

658 Pearson correlation between usage social media and self-concept. These findings provide implications for future research on why these social networking sites have gained popularity. Key words: college students, social media, social networking, communication, and self-concept, Use of social media, Page 1 Journal of Technology Research INTRODUCTION New developments in the technological world have made the internet an innovative way for individuals and families to communicate. Social media networks have created a phenomenon on the internet that has gained popularity over the last decade.

Use of social media by college students Essay Example

People use social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace to create and sustain relationships with others (Boyd & Ellison, 2007). These social media sites let those who use them create personal profiles, while connecting with other users of the sites. Users can upload photographs, post what they are doing at any given time, and send personal or public messages to whomever they choose. In this “information age,” social media sites seem to be growing in popularity rapidly, especially among young adults (Pempek, Yermolayeva, & Calvert, 2008).

In particular, college students form a large proportion of users on social media networks. Lenhart, Purcell, Smith, and Zickuhr (2010) found that 72% of all college students have a social media profile with 45% of college students using a social media site at least once a day. Many of these young adults use social media networks to communicate with family, friends, and even strangers. Social media sites have created new and non-personal ways for people to interact with others and young adults have taken advantage of this technological trend.

The purpose of this study was to examine how social media affects college student’s communication with others and how their own self-concept. Significance of Study This field of study is important because sociability is an underlying theme in using forms of social media. Since this social media phenomenon is continuing to grow at a fast pace, it is important to understand the effects it has on personal communication. Social media networks offer a straightforward way to converse with peers and get peer feedback, as well, which may influence a young adult’s self-esteem (Pempek et al. , 2008).

For example, Facebook is used primarily by students to maintain relationships with individuals they are acquainted with who live near and far (Quan-Haase & Young, 2010). Facebook makes it simpler to communicate with multiple people at one time. Social media may also make it easier for users to monitor activities of people they have not seen in a while as well as reconnecting with new and old friends (Quan-Haase & Young, 2010). Theoretical Framework Erikson’s theory of human development combined with Arnett’s theory of emerging adulthood provides the theoretical framework of this study.

Erikson described late adolescence as a time where there are many prospects of love, work, and worldwide views (Arnett, 2000). There have been various changes in the past century, such as delayed marriage and parenting that have changed the adolescence and early adulthood stages into a more transitional time period. Emerging adulthood has developed into a more contemporary stage of development for individual in their late teens and early twenties. Emerging adulthood, which is described as ages 18-25, is a combination of the late adolescence and early adulthood stages previously identified.

It is a time where individuals are trying to find a sense of self worth while exploring possibilities of love, work, and world views (Arnett, 2000). Identity formation occurs during emerging adulthood as young adults are figuring out who they are as a person. Since this is a time of Use of social media, Page 2 Journal of Technology Research exploration and change, individuals may seek peer feedback to help foster their self- identity. Emerging adults use social media communication methods as they make lifelong decisions for themselves (Arnett, 2000).

Social media allows an outlet for identity exploration to occur through peer feedback and strengthening of relationships (Pempek et al. , 2008). The purpose of the study was to examine social media use among college students and how it affects communication with others, and college students’ self-concept. Research Questions 1. What is the extent of usage of social media among college students? 2. Is there a relationship between extent of usage of social media and communication with family and friends? 3. Is there a relationship between self-concept of college students and their use of social media?

REVIEW OF LITERATURE All the studies reviewed for this review of literature used samples whose participants were college undergraduate students. College students’ use of social media is happening in rapidly growing amounts as new technology becomes available. Computer-mediated communication allows young adults to interact over social media with family and friends. Few studies have been conducted to examine how using social media and other computer-mediated communication affects communication skills (Baker & Oswald, 2010).

Boyd and Ellison (2007) defined social network sites as public web-based services that allow users to develop a personal profile, identify other users (“friends”) with whom they have a connection, read and react to postings made by other users on the site, and send and receive messages either privately or publicly. Individuals may choose to send private messages, write on other user’s walls, organize social activities, and keep informed about other user’s daily activities. However, users can limit themselves on what information they would like to share publicly with others.

Some items they may choose to include are: pictures, favorite books and movies, birthday, relationship status, and location (Tufekci, 2008). Baym, Zhang, and Lin (2004) studied social interactions of college students across all media. Their results indicated that 64% still prefer face-to-face interaction, 18. 4% prefer the telephone, and only 16. 1% prefer the internet for making social contacts. The internet interactions reported showed that e-mail was by far the most dominant form of contact, followed by chat and instant-messaging (Baym et al. , 2004).

Of the 51 participants in the study, 49 reported conducting their social life contacts through at least two, and often three, methods on any given day (Baym et al. , 2004). Similarly, one study reported that over 27% of young adults used a social networking site every day in 2009 (Lenhart, Purcell, Smith, & Zickuhr, 2010). Social network sites help fulfill communication needs and wants. It is a convenient method of communication and provides the ability to stay connected with friends and family, but on the users own rate and time (Urista, Dong, & Day, 2009).

Users can manage their interactions within their own schedule by choosing when they want to read and respond. The internet communication is a solitary activity usually done alone. However, it is efficient because it is a one-to-many method of communication that allows users to quickly spread information. Use of social media, Page 3 Journal of Technology Research Extent of Usage of Social Media According to Lenhart et al. , (2010), about 57% of social network users are 18-29 years old and have a personal profile on multiple social media websites.

In a study by Pempek, Yermolayeva, and Calvert (2009), the amount of time spent daily on social network sites varied greatly. However, an analysis of the data indicated most participants spent approximately 30 minutes a day socializing, mostly during the evening hours between 9 p. m. to 12 a. m. Students spent an average of 47 minutes a day on Facebook. More than 50% of college students go on a social networking site several times a day (Sheldon, 2008). Quan-Haase and Young (2010) found that 82% of college students reported logging into Facebook several times a day.

Younger students tended to use Facebook more frequently than older students to keep in touch with friends from high school or from their hometown (Pempek et al. , 2009). When internet technology has surged in popularity, it is reasonable to be curious about its impact on human face-to-face communication. Baym et al. (2004) found that the quality and quantity of interactions in other media were not threatened by social internet sites. Online social interaction is only part of the total multimedia social relationship, not an entity in itself.

Local social relationships are most likely to use face-to-face contacts and least likely to use the internet. Long distance relationships are maintained with the internet about as often as with the telephone. Internet interactions were perceived as high in quality and only slightly lower than face-to-face conversations and telephone calls. Gender is the only significant demographic variable affecting social media use, as there are some differences between use by men and women.

Women are more likely than men to have a personal profile on Facebook, but men are more likely than women to sustain a profile on LinkedIn (Lenhart et al. , 2010). Furthermore, women were four to five times more likely than men to use social networking sites (Tufekci, 2008). Moreover, Sheldon (2008) found that overall women were more likely to use social media for maintaining relationships with family and friends, passing time, and entertainment, but men were more likely to use social media to meet new people. College women were also more likely than men to use the internet for relational

communication, such as contacts with friends, family, and romantic partners (Baym, Zhang, Kunkel, Ledbetter, & Mei-Chen, 2007). Educational experience of men and women seemed to play a factor in social media use as well. Men and women were more likely to use social network sites frequently if they had college experience (Lenhart et al. , 2010). Perceived Communication Skills via Social Networks There are many reasons for young adults to join social networking websites as they try to communicate within their social system.

The principal reason reported was to maintain relationships with existing acquaintances that were already part of their social network (Sheldon, 2008). Although there are exceptions, most social network site users primarily interact on these sites to support pre-existing social relations, as opposed to meeting new people (Boyd & Ellison, 2007). Another study found that Facebook and instant message were not used to meet new people, just to maintain existing social ties (Quan-Haase et al. , 2010). Passing time and entertainment were other major factors in using social media sites (Sheldon, 2008).

Use of social media, Page 4 Journal of Technology Research Social media websites allow users to keep in touch with family and friends in a fairly easy and convenient way (Quan-Haase et al. , 2010). Although students did communicate with friends and family by posting information, they spent much of the time viewing information without interacting in any way. These lurking activities of reading other individuals profiles or news feeds or looking at photographs were performed frequently by a majority of respondents in a 2009 study (Pempek et al. ).

This activity, while providing entertainment and social updates, constitutes only one-sided communication. Social media fulfills different communication needs for different users. Interactions via the computer facilitate communication by allowing users to keep in touch with family and friends in a convenient way, to learn about social events, and to find out about activities of other users. The gratification received from this social information helped users feel that they were a part of a peer network of knowing what was going on about events and activities (Quan-Haase et al.

, 2010). Immediate communication benefits of Facebook users were seen for individuals reporting various levels of shyness. Shyness might cause individuals to avoid social, face-to-face interaction altogether, so these persons would have less communication and less social support. In a study looking at the association between online social media and friendship quality of shy individuals, results indicated that online social networks provided a comfortable environment in which shy individuals could interact with others (Baker & Oswald, 2010).

Data has shown that individuals who used Facebook for communication had better quality friendships. Using social media sites helped improve the quality of relationships between users. Some reasons for improving quality of relationships through using Facebook included: it was easier to get to know others better without having face-to-face conversation, users felt more comfortable, and users spent more time communicating over the computer so they gained more social support (Baker & Oswald, 2010).

Further, “social grooming” was an aspect of social networking that has received attention in a comparison of users and non-users of social media sites. Social grooming included expressive activities of social interaction, communication, gossip, and entertainment. Users have expressed enjoyment from keeping track of their friends’ lives and activities, but non-users were less interested in these activities (Tufekci, 2008). This social interaction of users may make it easier to communicate with others by keeping in touch with friends and family on a regular basis more often than non-users.

Perceived communication was reported as being more satisfying in same-sex relationships rather than in cross-sex relationships (Baym et al. , 2007). This was true for both woman-to-woman and man-to-man interactions. It is also not surprising that communication relationships were more satisfying with friends and family rather than with mere acquaintances (Baym et al. , 2007). Self-Concept and Social Media Since social media provides an easy way to receive feedback and communicate with peers, young adults attitudes of themselves can be affected by using social media networks (Pempek et al.

, 2009). Social media sites empower users to take an active role in their own socialization process and in constructing their own self-identity (Urista et al. , 2009). A personal profile is the way users present themselves; they can include as much information as desired about themselves, including posting pictures. Due to digital technology, users can show considerable information about themselves and their friends. This self-disclosure is a way to Use of social media, Page 5 Journal of Technology Research open up their own identities of how they want others to perceive them (Pempek et al.

, 2009). Intimate self-disclosures help produce greater intimacy in computer-mediated communication than in face-to-face contacts (Jiang, Bazarova, & Hancock, 2011). Producing an attractive personal profile for others to admire is a way to improve self-concept. It has been suggested that individuals partake in selective self-presentation on social media sites so they may appear to want to impress others (Jiang et al. , 2011). This is especially true for college students as they self-disclose frequently during this exploratory period.

In accordance with Arnett’s theory, emerging adulthood (18-25 years old) is a time when there is a period of freedom and independence in a young person’s life (Arnett, 2000). Self-disclosure is an identity challenge in emerging adulthood (Pempek et al. , 2009). Self-disclosure helps by getting feedback from peers that helps develop a sense of self and strengthens existing relationships as well (Pempek et al. , 2009). Many individuals use social network sites to feel popular, trying to add as many “friends” as possible so they appear to be more admired.

Young adults reported an average of 358 Facebook friends (Pempek et al. , 2009). Another study reported a mean of 200 Facebook friends, almost all of which they had met in person prior to the internet connection (West, Lewis, & Currie, 2009). Additionally, another study found that young people created a virtual identity in which they fashioned an ideal self so that they would impress others. This method of improving social capital and appearance boasted one’s self-concept and self-esteem in both the online and the real world (Urista et al.

, 2009). Generally, 80% of Facebook friends were peers of similar age. Attitudes varied when participants were asked about having older adults (especially parents) as Facebook friends. Some said they felt it would invade their privacy; others said that they needed to separate family life from their own social life. This study suggested that friendships with parents on Facebook could create problems and threaten their self-concept because their private life could become public (West et al. , 2009).

Self-disclosures in social media are not a single communication act, but rely also on other’s interpretations on these disclosures and the communication behaviors that follow (Jiang et al. , 2011). Social support from others on social media websites influences how an individual self-discloses (Lui & LaRose, 2008). Individuals receive social support from other users which helps to maintain existing relationships; this has been found to improve quality of life in college students (Lui & LaRose, 2008). Obtaining comments from other users on pictures and wall postings improves images that individuals have on themselves.

It is a way of receiving attention from a broad spectrum of people in an indirect way. A timely response elicits gratification and good feelings of self and satisfaction of personal and interpersonal desires (Urista et al. , 2009). This self-disclosure provided the framework for a theoretical model that high disclosure generates relationship intimacy (Jiang et al. , 2011). In one’s search for intimacy, a good selfconcept is essential. METHOD First the researchers successfully completed an online Human Subjects Training from the National Institute of Health (NIH) site.

Approval from the university human subject review committee was obtained prior to beginning the study. Participants consisted of 96 undergraduate college students attending a mid western university in the US. A convenient and stratified sampling method was used to acquire the Use of social media, Page 6 Journal of Technology Research sample. Volunteer students from various classes completed the study. Various college classes were selected to provide a stratified sample of gender and age. The ‘Use of Social Media Questionnaire’ was used to collect data.

The written questionnaire was created by the principal researchers with some questions adapted from Pew Internet and American Life Project’s “Social Networking Websites and Teens Survey” by Lenhart, Purcell, Smith, and Zickuhr (2010). Questions in the survey included the following areas: demographics, extent of usage of social media, effect on communication, and attitudes of self. The questions on the instrument were designed to satisfy the research questions as set forth in the introduction of this study. Therefore, the questionnaire was considered to have content validity. RESULTS

The results indicated that a total of 96 undergraduate students responded to the questionnaire. There were 67 (69. 8%) females and 29 (30. 2%) males included in the sample. Among the participants, 90% were between the ages of 18-33. Of the undergraduate college students sampled, 71. 9% were juniors and senior level while 28. 1% were freshman and sophomore level. Of the participants sampled, 79% were Caucasian, 16% were AfricanAmerican, 4% were Hispanic, and 1% other. RQ1: What is the extent of usage of social media among college students? Descriptive statistics and frequencies were used to conduct the analysis.

To measure the extent of usage of social media, five questions were used. The questions were as follows: 1) Do you use any forms of social networking sites on the internet, 2) Check all forms of social networking sites that you currently use, 3) Which social networking profile do you update most often, 4) How often do you visit social networking sites, and 5) Why do you use social networking sites. The highest score one could acquire for the variable of social media was a 14. The mean score was 9. 6. Results showed that 65. 6% of participants scored between 10 and 13.

The score with the highest frequency was 10, which comprised of 40. 6% of the sample. All of the college students sampled indicated that they did use some form of social media, as indicated in Table 1 (Appendix). Participants reported updating their Facebook page the most (88. 5%), and Twitter (11. 5%). Frequency of use indicated that 57 (59. 4%) students visited a social networking site several times a day. Reasons for using the social networking sites varied. Communication with family and friends was the most popular reason students used social media, with 91.

7% of participants indicating this was the reason. Also, 59. 4% said they used the sites for entertainment and 57. 3% said they used the sites when they felt bored. Additional reasons reported included planning activities (33. 3%), companionship (11. 5%), and other reasons such as communicating with people far away (10. 4%). RQ2: Is there a relationship between extent of usage of social media and communication with family and friends? Use of social media, Page 7 Journal of Technology Research To measure perceived communication skills, nine questions were used.

The questions were as follows: 1) Do you use social networking websites to communicate with friends, 2) Do you use social networking websites to communicate with family, 3) Do you prefer using social networking websites over face-to-face communication, 4) In what ways do you communicate with friends and family on social networking websites, 5) How often do you communicate with friends and family using social networking sites, 6) Has using social networking websites made keeping in contact with friends and family easier, 7) Do you ever use social networking websites to stay in touch with friends and family you rarely see in person, 8) Do you ever use social networking websites to stay in touch with friends and family you see often, and 9) Does using social networking websites help you communicate with people face-to-face better. The highest score one could acquire for the variable of perceived communication skills was a 21. The mean score was 14 with a mode of 13. Results of the survey indicated the importance of social media use as a communication tool with friends and family as indicated in Table 2 (Appendix). Of the students included in the sample, 50% reported communicating with family and friends on social networking sites every day.

Other students reported using sites to communicate with family and friends a few days a week (40%), every few weeks (8%), and less often (2%). According to the 96 students surveyed, 74 (77%) prefer face-to-face communication over communication via the internet (23%). Pearson correlation was conducted to see if there was a relationship between social media and communication with family and friends. There was a . 586 Pearson correlation between use of social media and perceived communication with family and friends as indicated in Table 3 (Appendix). RQ3- Is there a relationship between self-concept of college students and their use of social media? To measure self-concept, seven questions were used.

The questions were as follows: 1) Do you ever use social networking websites to make new friends, 2) How often do you spend time “lurking” on social networking sites, 3) How often do you post status updates, 4) How often do other users comment on your personal profile, 5) Have you used social networking sites to impress other users, 6) Does your communication with other users on social networking sites positively or negatively affect your self-esteem, and 7) How many internet “friends” do you have on social networking websites. The highest score one could acquire for the variable of self-concept was a 29. The mean score was 16 with a mode of 19. Of the students sampled, 45 (47%) expressed lurking on a site every day. An equal number of students indicated that social media sites had affected them positively (49%) or that it did not affect them positively or negatively (49%). Pearson correlation was conducted to see whether there was a relationship between usage of social media and selfconcept. There was a . 658 Pearson correlation between self-concept and social media use as indicated by Table 4 (Appendix).

The number of “friends” the students reported having on social networking sites was found to be mostly between the range of 301-600, with 39% of participants reporting they had that many friends. Additionally, 33% of students reported having 0-300 friends, 10% reported having 601-900 friends, 6% reported having 901-1200 friends, and 4 % reported having 12011500 friends, 3% had 1801-2100 friends, 2% reported having 1501-1800 friends, and only 2% had friends in the 2101 and above range. Use of social media, Page 8 Journal of Technology Research A correlation was found between the number of friends one has on social media networks and the extent of usage, communication, and self-concept. The was a significant correlation between all three variables and the number of friends on social networking sites as indicated by Table 5 (Appendix).

The variable of self-concept had a higher correlation with the number of friends one had than communication and the extent of usage of social media usage. DISCUSSION The findings of this study suggested that almost all college students were using some form of social networking website. This is significant since Lenhart et al. (2010) found that 71% of young adults have a Facebook account. The current study indicated that Facebook and e-mail were the social network websites of choice, with 99% of college students using Facebook and 90% using e-mail. This findings concurred with research by Lenhart et al. (2010) which found that Facebook is the most popular form of social media. Participants in this study indicated that the websites they update the most was Facebook and Twitter.

As found in research done by Sheldon (2008) and Quan-Haase and Young (2010), majority of college students visited their social networking sites several times a day, and this shows that the extent of usage of social media sites is frequent. Several reasons were given as to why college students were using social networking websites. The most important reason given was to communicate with family and friends. Entertainment and boredom were also prominent reasons for use social networking sites. These findings are supported by Sheldon (2008) who found that students use Facebook and other websites to pass time, be entertained, and maintain existing relationships with others.

It seemed that college students were using social media sites to communicate with others as well as to occupy free time when they were bored. Communicating with friends and family on social media sites was very common among college students in the current study. Only a small number of college students communicate with friends more than family on these social websites, but communication generally was very high. As Baym et al. (2004) indicated, most college students preferred to communicate face-to-face rather than over a computer. However, with friends and family living all over the world and having busy lives, communicating via a computer was a more convenient option. Other studies such as Baym et al. (2007) and Urista et al.

(2009) agree that college students communicate over the internet with friends and family that live far away. Students used a variety of ways to communicate with friends and family on social networking sites. Wall posts and status updates were the most common ways to communicate, but students sent private messages and posted photographs as well. Probably, posting wall posts and status updates was easier and faster to communicate than sending private messages or posting photographs. Participants in this study reported communicating with friends and family on social media websites several times in a week. Social networking sites have made it much easier for students to communicate with friends and family. Like Baym et al.

(2007), the current study found that with so many people having busy lives or having friends and family that live far away, these sites have helped to maintain contact with those individuals that students rarely saw. Results also showed that social media has helped maintain contact with people who the students saw more regularly. These websites have helped students better communicate with others face-to-face as well. A particular interesting finding was that most college students rated the quality of communication as good, Use of social media, Page 9 Journal of Technology Research but not excellent, fair, or poor. This indicates that quality of communication over the computer is not ideal, but it has positive qualities to it.

Students in this study reported were using status updates to communicate with others, however, they did not use them that frequently. Another interesting finding from the current study was that 78% of college students did not use social networking websites to impress others. Unlike previous research such as Jiang et al. (2011), this current study found that most college students were not interested in impressing other users. They posted pictures and tell others about what is happening in their lives, but they may not be trying to impress others with this information. West et al. (2009) and Quan-Haase and Young (2010) found that making new friends over social media websites was not that important to college students.

It appears that maintaining existing relationships with friends and family was a more important result of social media. “Lurking,” or spending time looking at other users’ profiles without having communication with them, was a significant reason for students to be on social networking sites. Like Pempek et al. (2009), the current study also found that the amount of time on social networking sites varies. For the most part, students admitted to lurking several times a day. Unlike past research, the current study found that lurking behaviors seem to be increasing. It is important for students to see what is happening in other individual’s lives, even though they may not talk to them often.

Lurking may also be occurring because of entertainment and boredom reasons. The relationship between social media usage on self-concept was also an interesting finding. Liu and LaRose (2008) had found negative effects on self-esteem by using social networking websites. The current study found that college students either believe that social media websites affect their self-esteem positively or neither positively or negatively. Only two participants in this study reported negative feelings due to use of social media. This gives implications that other users’ comments to students on these sites does influence students’ selfconcepts or students do not think about whether social networking sites affect them.

Finally, the number of “friends” college students had on social networking websites may affect their self-concept. The current study found that most college students have about 300 to 600 friends. These findings were consistent with Pempek et al. (2009), who also found similar numbers of friends on social networking sites. However, the current study found that the number of friends individuals have on social networking sites is increasing. Limitations First, there could have been a more equal gender distribution. Compared to females who made up 70% of the sample, there were only 30% of males included in this sample. Also more freshmen and sophomores in the sample would have added to the breadth of the research. The researchers are of the opinion

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