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65 Seiten, Note: A
1.1. Background Study
1.2. Overview of SNSs
1.3. Motivation to adopt SNS
1.4. Critique of Social Network Sites
1.5. Internet use, relationships and social capital
1.6. Social capital and Relationships
1.6.1. Types of social capital
1.7. Research Questions
1.9. Broad objective
1.9.1. Specific objectives
2. Literature review
2.1. Social network sites: Definition
2.2. Social network sites: History
2.2.4. Students’ lifestyles and SNSs
2.3. Frequency of SNSs and internet overuse among students
2.3.1. SNSs and Privacy
2.3.2. Why students use social network sites
2.4. Percentage of social network site usage among students
2.4.1. Coleman’s Theory-of-Social-Capital
2.4.2. Social-Network-Theory of Social-Capital
2.4.3. Social capital: online and offline
2.5. Social capital and the internet
2.5.1. Social network theory and online community
3. Research Methodology
3.1. Research Design
3.2. Targeted Population
3.3. Sampling Technique and Sample Size
3.4. Pilot Study
3.7. Data Collection
3.8. Data Analysis and Preparation
3.9. Logistics and Ethical Considerations
3.10. The study Limitations
4. Data Analysis and Discussion
4.1. Frequency distribution of students by Age and Gender
4.2. Type of Social network sites used
4.3. Duration of using SNS
4.4. Hours per day on social network sites
4.5. Number of sites and Friends
4.6. Reasons for using social network sites
4.7. Social network sites intensity
4.8. Psychological measures
4.9. Bridging of Social capital
4.10. Summary of the key findings
APPENDIX 1: QUESTIONNAIRE
List of tables and figures
Table 1 Social network sites intensity
Table 2: Psychological measures
Table 3: Bridging of Social capital
Figure 1: Distribution of social network sites usage by age
Figure 2: Distribution of social network sites usage by Gender
Figure 3: social network sites choice
Figure 4: Duration since joining SNSs
Figure 5: hours per day on SNSs
Figure 6: SNSs per student
Figure 7: number of friends
Figure 8: reason for SNSs usage
Figure 9 : Communication with ties
Figure 10: Reason for not using SNSs
Social network sites have millions of users worldwide with the sites integrated into the daily practices of the users with increasing numbers recorded among university students. Examples of popular social network sites used commonly by university students include Facebook, Bebo, MySpace, Cyworld and many others. The largest of the sites among university students being Facebook created in 2004 by Zuckerberg with its rate of usage at 90% (Stutzman, 2006). In addition, Facebook has stimulated a platform for a lot researches on its various aspects for instance in academics (Hewitt & Forte, 2006). Furthermore the growth of social network sites on schools can be attributed to the growth
The intense usage of social network sites within academic institutions has resulted into social capital formation and on the other hand resulted to new platforms of effective communication. In addition, the social network sites are also associated with social capital measures for instance bonding and bridging of social capital. Furthermore, self esteem moderates the relationship between social capital and social network sites. Individuals who have low self esteem tend to gain confidence from using social network sites as compared with their counterparts who have high self-esteem. This aspect acts as a psychological boost to individuals specifically students who are introverts and can act as an academic boost for them.
Studies conducted earlier on social network sites had data being collected at one-point-in-time thus making it difficult to determine a time order in relationships among users of the social network sites, social capital and self esteem. The growth of social network sites was not phenomenal and popular and thus the underlying reasons which attracted different segments could not be identified. The reports indicated that studies on impacts of SNSs among heavy users like university students need to be conducted since friendship maintenance using social network sites play a significant role in individual psychological development of students. The age group 18 to 25 represents the period between adulthood and adolescence according to Arnett (2000). This stage, as argued by Arnett, is vital to an individual adulthood development since during this period when a person develops social skills like for career orientation, relationship maintenance and self dependency. Other studies on emergence of adulthood have also reported that more studies need to be conducted on the impacts of new media which includes the social network sites on relationships and adult development (Brown, 2006). The maintenance and development of friendship during the period of transition from adolescence to adulthood has been identified as influential to the well being, identity formation and development of family and romantic relationships over long term (Connolly, Furman, & Konarksi, 2000). Since the social network sites offer tools to develop relationships and their maintenance, they are therefore vital during the merging adulthood which is a critical and significance aspect on youth development. The youth is the predominant age group among the University students.
Social network sites have unique technological features supporting various practices and interests of the users. Although the technological features of the sites are dynamic and have various aspects, there are different user engagement, cultures, practices, implications and meanings emerging from their usage which have similarities making it more accessible to university students of different backgrounds. Interaction between individuals has taken a virtual dimension with online communities linking and creating complex technical interactions due to social network sites. The sites enable pre-established social networks to be maintained where participants interact with individuals they know offline as well as connecting the users to new people based on similar interests, shared activities and political views or through shared religious, gender, nationality and religious based identities. In addition, the sites vary in their communication tools like blogging, mobile connectivity and video/photo sharing.
Social network sites are integrated into the participant’s everyday media practices. Most users spend slightly over 20 minutes daily on them and approximately two-thirds log in everyday more than once according to (Cassidy, 2006). The social network sites are used across all ages with most visits done by younger users who comprise the University students who have proximity to the internet. In addition, research conducted on the social network sites have focused on privacy concerns and identity presentation (Gross & Acquisti, 2005). The information provided by the participants about themselves and the relative truth in these information as well as inadequate privacy controls prompted Gross and Acquisti (2005) to caution that users of social network sites are at risk of identity theft (online) and stalking (offline). Other recent social network researches have assessed the perception of students on presence of their instructors and self disclosures (Mazer, Murphy, & Simonds, 2007 relationship between friendship articulation and profile structure (Lampe, Ellison, & Steinfield, 2007) and temporal usage patterns (Golder, Wilkinson, & Huberman, 2007).
The SNSs are developed for participants to utilize them for various purposes like general chatting, business, meet colleagues and friends since they can be particularly work-related (LinkedIn), oriented towards romantic relationships contexts (original aim of Friendster), shared interests (MySpace) or connect students (original aim of Facebook). The sites, for example Facebook, comprises technological capacities and heavy usage-patterns which bridge offline and online connections hence promoting social capital generation and facilitating place based community. Besides, the participants ‘search’ for individuals they have offline connection with and the people they don’t know (Lampe, Ellison, & Steinfield, 2006). Earlier studies on the online communities (Wellman, et al., 2006) reported that people using social network sites would connect with individuals outside their location or social groups and not shared geography the conjecture that when offline and online social-networks overlap direction taken was online-to-offline. Implying that the online connections led to face to face interaction, for example, Parks and Floyd (1996) were of the opinion that their respondents (one-third) and online correspondence later met face to face. Although these studies acknowledged the blending between online and offline networks, they assumed the direction from online-to-offline may not be relevant to the social network sites today which are structured to enable establishment of new connection and articulate the existing ones. Nevertheless since it is not well known whether participants use the social network sites to form new ties or maintain the existing ones, implications of social network sites on social capital are unknown. The usage of social network sites varies according to the types of users (Hargittai, 2008. With diverse users and high recognition, there are emerging differences in its usage among individuals from different economic, cultural and economic contexts depending on their interests and tastes.
Discovering and building communities has increasingly become important. This can be attributed to the fact that the internet is the biggest collection of personalities, cultures and ideas in history. The incessant development of other online communities needs better techniques to comprehend this observable fact. The internet has proliferated as a result of the new emerging online communities. In particular, the increasing community of individuals that write and read weblogs double each year (Johnson and Ambrose, 2006). These communities indicate that groups of users are connected by well defined and explicit relation for example health community sharing a medical condition, one contact link between businesses, and pre-existing family or friend relationship in a community that shares photos. The online communities are rising in their popularity by linking individuals together to work, communicate and socialize. The total data that these communities generate exceeds by far previous social data put together. The past available social-network data was very static and limited. For example, it is expensive for one to conduct a survey requesting users of the sites to name their acquaintances in order to develop a social-network graph for analysis. As a result of the increased ability for an individual to have an internet connection, the data for social networks are available for both static snapshots and over time. The available social graph online is pertinent and more comprehensive than the ones generated from surveys manually. Social capital can be regarded as an essential idea which originates in sociology and political science (Lin, 2001).In comparison to other types of capital, individuals do not poses social capital but exist in the relationships that individuals have with friends and acquaintances (Everett and Borgatti, 1999). The social capital promotes coordination, reciprocity and collaboration.
There are many internet technologies combined by the social network sites on a single platform. The reasons why individuals prefer one social network site over the other differ due to the many unique sites existing in a particular location. In addition, the sage of social network sites among the students has increased over the years with the use of mobile phones in internet surfing following improved technology not to mention the availability of the internet facilities like computer labs on the institutions. According to the reports by Boyd and Ellison (2007), 90% of internet users visit the sites at one occasion. The social network sites are becoming widely used than before especially amongst the youth who comprise a majority of university students. Nevertheless, the perception of users on technology is varied thus affecting the decision to have trust on the SNSs. In the opinion of (Bargh and Mckenne, 2004), the innovation is not trusted due to privacy as the major problem highlighted. Unsafe information disclosure by users to both unfamiliar and known population, addiction, individual reputation, cyber bullying, contacting dangerous individuals and risky behavior are also factors influencing the trust of social network sites. The main reason why individuals join the sites may not be well understood in the context of trust. The consistent practical and theoretical challenge in social network sites design is how to motivate users to contribute and participate in them.
Social network sites are innate to cultural experiences; they are widely accepted since they focus on individual relationships and are oriented on informal and social goals. The sites enhance focused exchange of information including news, recommendations, personal and academic information among both the student fraternity and other users. The social network site applications satisfy the basic desire for inclusiveness and connection within a social community or social activity. Students and community can be enjoined and communicate with ease breaking barriers of communication. By real social networks being modeled in the virtual environment, the social network sites add value by increasing the possibility of connection and centralizing communication for its members. Nevertheless, the increasing SNSs choice has no portability of data in the applications; facet control inability and lack of simplistic relationship-models are features preventing the maturity of this technology. In addition, SNSs technology market failures would detract these applications’ potential to improve organizational and personal knowledge applications. The social network sites popularity has rapidly increased as the available numbers of the sites have continued to surge. The reports by one of the sites-Friendster indicated that the most used SNS has hundreds of thousands of memberships within a greater network. By early 2004, unofficial counts revealed the number of social network sites to be more than 100 and university students being mature, educated and exposed were the main participants on the SNS.
The social network sites are still maturing and evolving and there are various critical points to be noticed more so on the general frontier and on the welfare of university students. Each of the sites is proprietary and discrete offering many choices between them with less return for individuals who join more than one site. Also, the tools offered in current social network sites are already available to the users and the model of relationship employed in them are overly simplistic. The participants cannot manage various facets of their identity without opening multiple accounts or resorting to a particular median identity. Another common problem with the social network sites is the separate choices available. Many of the sites had similar purposes as that of Friendster each with proprietary and separate user interface thus presenting a problem to new users on which site to choose. Therefore, the new users are forced to join the site where many of their friends are without examining the features it offers. Unfortunately, participants with diverse and large groups of acquaintances and friends are invited to join multiple sites. Even though the process of registration in each of the social network sites is simple, maintaining different accounts on various sites which contain basically the same features is an inconvenience.
While there are large users in each of the social network sites, it is not obvious that a participant’s real social network which is extended will be represented fully by any site. Furthermore, the pressure emanating from the friends to join another site will probably leads to more frustrations resulting into defection from social network sites. Beyond content and functionality, many tools in the social network sites duplicate the users effort required to maintain the relationships with friends in many other communications avenues. There are contact-management systems and internal messaging in the social network sites to communicate in their networks. There is a high probability that many of the participants in these sites have already used such tools in managing their email accounts, providing the users with familiar management of personal information. Another important critique is the ability of the SNS to negatively influence the academic and welfare of students. University students are likely to be pre-occupied to fantasy communication rather than focusing on education goals.
The two complementary points of view on the significance of maintaining friendship especially among university students is that social capital is generated by relationships according to Lin (1999). In addition, social capital is an essential component in the psychosocial development as reported by Sullivan (1953). The social network sites are very important in the maintaining of relationships formed between university students and their close friends. Without these social network sites, such close friendship and relationships would have been lost when individuals leave their locally supported network home town. Also, there is sufficient evidence which have linked the use of internet and the social network sites to self worth of participants and psychological development as well (Kraut et al., 2002).
There are varied definitions of social capital depending on the multiple fields as Adler & Kwon (2002) posits, nevertheless, social capital refers to gains emanating from social relationships that individuals have with one another. For social capital to be accumulated there must be the capability to create and maintain close associations with friends. For example, Coleman (1988) posits that social capital can be compared to a resource which becomes accumulated through increased relationships being formed among individuals. In addition, creation of social networks gives arises to social capital.
Social capital conception can be both at community level and individual level although the community level is the aggregate of the individual and relationships-levels (Lin, 1999). Conception of social capital at the community level has declined due to risen social disorder, decreased engagement in the civic activities and distrust between members of communities. However, increased social capital gives rise to more commitment being made by individuals to their community as well as enabling collective actions to be mobilized. Social capital at individual level allows people to make the most of connections they have with others, getting the benefits like support and information.
Bonding social-capital occurs between persons in close emotional relationships for example close friends and family while bridging social-capital stems from weak ties. Weak ties refer to connections that individuals have and are sources useful information but not for emotional support (Granovetter, 1983).
The social network sites comprise an essential research area in the online technologies and their impacts as shown by earlier researches. University Students have adopted social network sites into their daily practices, using the sites to communicate amongst themselves. This study aims to ask:
I. What is the percentage/frequency of SNSs usage among university students?
II. Which social network sites are used by the university students?
III. What purpose do university students use the social network sites for?
IV. What is the amount of time that the students spend on the social network sites?
V. Do SNSs negatively influence study career and change the life style of university students?
VI. Do SNSs promote emotional communication and interactive relationship between people?
VII. Do new media block the face-to-face communications?
Ho SNSs does not diversify people’s lives or promote interpersonal interaction between individuals
Ho SNSs does not improve people’s enthusiasm to take part in social life
Ho SNSs does not have a positive influence on people or make life more broad and colorful
To assess the usage of social network sites amongst university students
I. To determine the frequency of SNSs usage amongst university students
II. To find out the social network sites used by the university students
III. To assess the amount of time spent on the social network sites by the university students
IV. To determine if social network sites negatively influence study career and consequently change the life style of university students
V. To assess whether SNSs promote communication and interactive relationship between people
VI. To find out if new media blocks the face to face communications between people
The internet is a vital tool for academic research, communication entertainment and information. More students are engaging in utilization of the internet in various ways. For instance, social network sites have been utilized by students for various reasons; this has led to the change in lifestyles of the students as they spend more time socializing online and meeting new friends (Boyd & Heer, 2006). Other researchers have indicated that internet and social network sites could satisfy social support and recognition needs of the society as well as the sense-of-belonging. Of the concern here is whether addiction to social network sites usage will impact negatively on the performance of the students (Lin 2006).
There been a number of studies which have pointed out on problematic internet-usage. This refers to internet usage which creates social, school, work and psychological difficulties in an individual’s life. In addition, internet usage could result in negative professional, social and academic consequences (Joinson and Adam, 2008). The life of individuals has transformed to become diversified due to social media. In addition, interpersonal interaction has been enhanced and more people are becoming interested in taking part in everyday social life. New media has also enabled people to maintain ties easily and cheaply hence life has been made more broad and colorful. Social network sites allow university students to explore the world, share moments and make friends through internet making them to impact more on people’s socio-psychological behavior although virtual friends do not really meet. In addition, they breach national, regional, social and cultural boundaries. However, social network sites have negative aspects as well, for instance, some of the information regarding personal details are half truths or false hence individuals post misleading information on the sites. In addition, there are privacy issues therefore, SNS negatively impacts on social and psychological behavior of users.
Social network sites (SNSs) refer to web-based-services which enable university students within bounded systems to construct semi-public or public profiles, articulate users’ list incase individuals share connection and in addition traverse or view their connection lists as well as for others in the system (Skog, 2005). MySpace, Facebook, Cyworld, Bebo, Orkut are some of the major social network sites. It has been reported that social network sites are becoming more and more popular among the students worldwide due to those factors (Acquisti & Gross, 2006). This rapid growth has seen various corporations investing money and time in purchasing, creating, advertising and promoting the social network sites in order to tap the potential created by the university students.
The first social-network-site was founded in 1997. Today, hundreds of social network sites exist supporting various interests, practices and users. The first social network site to contain a number of features was Six Degrees, this site helped individuals to send message and connect with others. Although Six Degrees had attracted millions of people, it was not sustainable and later closed. Various community tools from 1997-2001 started to support different profiles and articulated-friends list. AsianAvenue, MiGente and BlackPlanet enabled their users to generate professional, dating and personal profiles. Similarly, LiveJournal after its founding in 1999 developed one directional network-connection on the pages of users. The Korean Cyworld was founded in 1999 and developed the features of a social network site in 2001. Also, LunarStorm, a Swedish-web-community site, re-launched with social network site features in 2000 incorporating articulated Friends list, diary pages and guest books (Liu, Maes & Davenport 2006). The next group of social network sites included Ryze.com which was founded in 2001 with the aim of helping users to control business networks.
In 2002, Friendster was founded to complement Ryzer and as a competitor of Match.com, a profitable dating site. Many dating sites at the time aimed at introducing users to strangers if both had similar interests but Friendster focused on helping the “friends” of “friends” to meet, assuming that there would be better relationship developed between “Friends” of “Friends” than strangers. There were particularly three main user groups who were attracted by Friendster namely Burning-man-arts-festival attendees, gay men and bloggers (Boyd, 2006). Many new social network sites were launched from 2003 and were profile-centric in form with the objective to target certain demographics and to be as successful as the earlier social network site- Friendster.
According to Boyd (2004), MySpace was launched in 2003 as a competitor of site for Friendster, AsianAvenue and Xang particularly to take advantage of the estranged users of Friendster. As a result of this, there was a rapid growth in the number of MySpace users basically through capitalizing on the alienation of Friendster earlier adopters. Although, Boyd (2006b) is of the opinion that MySpace was not founded to accommodate user groups like bands, the Indie-rock-bands were welcomed. The band created profiles and used MySpace for advertisement of popular clubs, thus the relationship between fans and the bands helped to expand MySpace beyond former users of Friendster. Teenagers joined MySpace in large numbers in 2004. According to Stern & Dillman (2006), these teenagers unlike the other older users had not earlier been in Friendster. They joined MySpace for a number of reasons including to connect with various bands while other had been introduced by older members of their families
Facebook began only as a social network site for Harvard in 2004 (Cassidy, 2006). From 2005 in September, Facebook extended it support to students in high schools, professionals in the corporate networks and then expanded to everyone (Charnigo & Barnett-Ellis, 2007). The friendly user platform has made it popular to the university students.
There has been fast-paced adoption and evolution of social network sites into the students’ communication practices. The next five years promises more innovation and greater use and diverse SNSs usage in universities. SNSs companies are developing more features to meet the growing demands. University administrators are on the other hand examining ways of utilizing SNSs in supporting learning activities. Also, students are adapting and adopting the SNSs services to their lifestyles (National School Boards Association, 2007) It is important that higher education authorities understand the SNSs practices since they are vital in changing the universities’ social fabric. Despite the reports that SNS are being used by majority of students, the students have integrated SNSs usage into their technologically rich-lives. They use two or one SNSs and often don’t change their profiles.
Students are not concerned about security and privacy issues, seemingly because of avoiding access-restrictions on the profiles. They do not participate in many groups and daily involve in SNSs usage for an hour. Students maintain ties with hundreds of friends especially those they have earlier met. Communicating with their classmates through SNSs is more common than communicating with instructors. In fact many students are not for the idea that SNS should be taken as a mode of their formal-learning (Boyd, 2006)
There have been a variety of studies conducted to assess internet addiction as well as the frequency of SNSs usage amongst university students. Some of the research termed “overuse” as “addiction”, “abuse”, “unregulated”, “”excessive-internet use”, or “problematic-internet-use”. Alternatively, it was argued by some researchers that internet overuse may be a manifestation of other problematic factors in individual’s lives. In addition, there have been studies conducted to assess the association between internet overuse and age, gender, computer location and academic performance (Coleman, 1988)
University students have been reported to be the group at high risk for internet and SNSs overuse. The reasons given for this high frequency of SNSs usage are that (a) university students have a lot of unplanned time (b) there is access to unlimited internet in the universities (c) students are not monitored or controlled by the parents while in universities (d) new students have difficulty in adapting to campus (e) students are encouraged to research from the internet (f) students are internet literate (g) search for entertainment to ease stress in university (h) students attitude that they are alienated from various social activities (Liu, Maes & Davenport, 2006).
Privacy in SNSs refers to personal information regarded by individuals as important and inaccessible by the general public. A user who posts personal information on SNSs willingly for people to view should not expect they are unattainable. University srudents share information including their room number and campus involvement. Many share their gender and relationship status and complete profile portions. Nevertheless, there are ethical issues of concern regarding misuse of SNSs my students by posting comments and information which are accessed by university administration to track their behavior and consequently accuse them in case of organized strikes through SNSs (Lenhart and Madden, 2007).
Social network sites enable students to interact with strangers and to articulate the social networks resulting in more connections being made between students and other individuals. Research by Haythornthwaite (2005) reported that the meetings that students who use SNSs come across with other similar users are often latent ties with offline connection being shared. A part from social network sites having a number of unique technical features, their most admired feature is that they have visible profiles with ability to show an articulated record of friends. These friends happen to be also users of the same social network site.
Users are also provided with a mechanism in most social network sites that enable them to leave a message on the profiles of their Friends. This involves “comments” being left on these profiles although there are various labels used by different sites for leaving a comment. Besides, private messaging is allowed just like in webmail. A part from Friends, comments, private messaging and profiles, social network sites are different in their user base and features. There is video sharing or photo-sharing in some social network sites. SNSs enable students to create stories of other people’s. Writing and reading blog entries, creative stories and pocasts on SNSs encourage the students to express themselves and meditate the narratives by their peers.
The individual is an interesting characteristic in social network sites. Personal profile is the basis for interaction in social network sites, which is a personal-webpage on SNSs. Profile pages are not personal since they can be made public to other users. A vital function of personal profile is that the individual is represented on the social network site. This makes SNSs to be different from community discussion groups. A user is always regarded to be present through the personal page.
There have been a number of national surveys to measure the frequency of SNSs usage among students although it is not possible to accurately determine the number of users. According to the study by Lenhart and Madden (2007), there were over 55% of student respondents reporting that they are frequent users of SNSs. Another study conducted by Pew Internet in 2008, reported that from their sample, 22% of adults participating in more than one SNSs. There was a general trend in the reports indicating that more young adults particularly students, had the highest percentage in SNSs usage. Another research was also conducted in 98 universities and colleges which reported rate of SNSs usage among the students was 85.2 % in 2008. Among the colleges which participated in this research, the SNSs usage had risen from 74% to 88% in2006 to 2008 respectively (Salaway et al. 2008).
There are also researches conducted to assess SNSs usage frequency and the actual motivations for participation in social network sites. A report combined by office-of-communications in UK in 2008 indicated that the main reason was to share news or information with friends and family. The non SNSs users avoided participation claiming they had no technical experience, intellectual derision and safety concerns .reports from ECAR showed that the median rate of SNSs usage among students in university and colleges was daily. The percent of SNSs users daily was given to be 58.8% up from 32.8% three years ago. Most students participated in one SNSs (52.9%) while students participating in more than two SNSs being 38.4%. the percentage of individual SNSs were Facebook (89.3%), MySpace (48.3), while the others accounted for the remaining percentage. According to this research, the main reason why students accessed SNSs was to maintain ties with friends (96.8), find out about friends (51.6), share information (67.7), coordinate urgent events (48%) and communicate with colleagues (49.7%). Less than 20% reported that they were using SNSs to meet strangers.