social media

Communities and ICT New readings

American Behavioral Scientist

April 2010, Volume 53, No. 8

Caroline Haythornthwaite and Lori Kendall
Internet and Community
American Behavioral Scientist 2010 53: 1083-1094. [PDF] [References] [Request Permission]
Gustavo S. Mesch and Ilan Talmud
Internet Connectivity, Community Participation, and Place Attachment: A Longitudinal Study
American Behavioral Scientist 2010 53: 1095-1110. [Abstract] [PDF] [References] [Request Permission]
Keith N. Hampton
Internet Use and the Concentration of Disadvantage: Glocalization and the Urban Underclass
American Behavioral Scientist 2010 53: 1111-1132. [Abstract] [PDF] [References] [Request Permission]
Rich Ling and Gitte Stald
Mobile Communities: Are We Talking About a Village, a Clan, or a Small Group?
American Behavioral Scientist 2010 53: 1133-1147. [Abstract] [PDF] [References] [Request Permission]
Hua Wang and Barry Wellman
Social Connectivity in America: Changes in Adult Friendship Network Size From 2002 to 2007
American Behavioral Scientist 2010 53: 1148-1169. [Abstract] [PDF] [References] [Request Permission]
Uwe Matzat
Reducing Problems of Sociability in Online Communities: Integrating Online Communication With Offline Interaction
American Behavioral Scientist 2010 53: 1170-1193. [Abstract] [PDF] [References] [Request Permission]
Ingrid Erickson
Geography and Community: New Forms of Interaction Among People and Places
American Behavioral Scientist 2010 53: 1194-1207. [Abstract] [PDF] [References] [Request Permission]
Azi Lev-On
Engaging the Disengaged: Collective Action, Media Uses, and Sense of (Virtual) Community by Evacuees From Gush Katif
American Behavioral Scientist 2010 53: 1208-1227. [Abstract] [PDF] [References] [Request Permission]
Irina Shklovski, Moira Burke, Sara Kiesler, and Robert Kraut
Technology Adoption and Use in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans
American Behavioral Scientist 2010 53: 1228-1246. [Abstract] [PDF] [References] [Request Permission]

Social Support-Loneliness and the Use of Social Networking Sites

Results from Adults use of Social Networking Sites

(Gustavo S. Mesch, University of Haifa,

Principal Investigator gustavo@soc.haifa.ac.il)

Almost 10 years ago, when Robert Kraut et al. revised their data on the social impact of the Internet [1] they argued for a “rich get richer” hypothesis of Internet effects on society. The “rich get richer” hypothesis argues that using the Internet predicts better outcomes for those with more social support and worse outcomes for those with less support.

Following this reasoning I ask if social support predicts the frequency of use of social networking sites and the types of use. It make sense that individuals use social media according to their existing levels of involvement in social ties. The effect of social support on social media use can be expected to have different forms.

  1. The “no-effects” hypothesis will argue that loneliness and social support will not affect the use. Individuals use social media for different motives (entertainment, keeping up to date) but do not attempt to change their existing levels of social support. In other words, the effect of social support on frequency and type of use will be statistically non-significant.
  2. The “detrimental effects” hypothesis argues that loneliness and social support are a stable individual personality characteristic that does not lead to a change in our use of social media. The lonely do not attempt to make friends face-to-face and do not attempt to this through social media. The ones having a high level of social support will keep up with their friends as this is a characteristic of their personality. Thus, social support is expected to have a positive effect on the use of social media, the more lonely a person feels the less the use and the higher the social support the more frequent the use.
  3. The “compensation” hypothesis suggest that individuals attempt to compensate for their lack of social support face-to-face attempting to connect with others through social media. Thus, in this framework social support is negatively associated with the frequency of use of social networking sites. The higher the social support the less the use. Conversely, the lower the perceived social support (the more lonely) the higher the frequency of use of SNS.

Data for this study Data for this study was collected on September 2009. The study included a sample of Internet users that were approached by a company that has expertise in the use of a panel of Internet users for conducting web based surveys.  In the study participated 1264 Internet users from Israel that answered a web based survey of 45 questions that took about 30 minutes to complete. The average age of the sample was 29.16 years old (S.d. 6.77), 44.1 percent were married and 55.9 percent single, 46 percent were males and 54 percent females. In terms of education 5.5 percent of the sample had less than high school education, 28.2.8 % had high school education, 58.1 partial or completed college education and 8.3 percent a graduate degree. Overall 62.7 percent reported using SNS on a daily or weekly basis.

The first table shows the results of a multivariate analysis predicting frequency of SNS use.

Document2

* Age and gender are not associated with the frequency of SNS use.

*The higher the education the lower the use of SNS.

*The single are more frequent uses of SNS than the single.

*Social support is positively associated with frequency of SNS use.  This finding supports the “detrimental hypothesis” lonely are less frequent users and the ones with high social support are higher users.

Yet, from recent research on college students, it is known that SNS are differentially used by different individuals. Some use the sites for maintaining social ties with family and close friends and others for the expansion of social ties.

How social support is associated with type of use, for social tie expansion and social tie maintenance? I conducted a multivariate analysis predicting different types of use.

Document1

The results are different according to the type of Internet use.

Using the Internet to maintain existing social ties is associated with

* Gender: Women use the Internet to maintain existing social ties more than men.

*Marital Status: the married use the Internet to maintain social ties.

*Social support is positively associated with using the Internet for the maintenance of existing social ties.
Using the Internet to expand  social ties is associated with

* Age and gender. Older individuals use more the Internet to expand social ties than younger and males use the Internet to expand their social ties more than women.

*Social support. The higher the perception of social support the lower the use of social networking sites to expand social ties. Conversely, the lonely are more likely to use SNS to expand social ties.

Some conclusions:

The results indicate that the association between perceived social support and the use of social networking sites provides support both for the detrimental and compensation hypothesis. The “detrimental” hypothesis is only supported for using the Internet for maintaining social ties. Individuals with high levels of social support use the Internet for maintaining ties with the existing friends and family. The “compensation” effect is supported for individuals with low social support that use the social media to expand their social ties.

Whether they are successful in their attempt, is a question that remains open for the next post, as I have the data to show this.


[1] Kraut, R., Kiesler, S., Boneva, B., Cummings, J.; Helgeson, V.,&Crawford, J. (2001). The Internet Paradox Revisited. Journal of Social Issues, 58(1), 49-74

Gender and Occupational Uneven Distributions in SNS Use

Social Networking Sites Use
Gender and Occupational Distributions
(Source: Gustavo S. Mesch, “Together and Alone, the Use of SNS according to ‎Occupation in Israel. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of Organizational ‎Sociology, Haifa University, February 2010.‎)
During the month of September 2009 a study of a sample of Internet users in Israel ‎that were approached by Panels Ltd. a company that has expertise in research with a ‎panel of Internet users. In the study participated 1264 Internet users from Israel that ‎answered a web based survey of 45 questions that took about 30 minutes to complete.‎
Some conclusions:‎
Social Networking Sites are spaces of interaction. Despite the impression that SNS ‎popularity brings to a “normalization” social process and become universal spaces of ‎social action, the findings of this preliminary study show that ‎
• Social Networking Sites tend to segregate, and at least show uneven ‎distributions according to gender and occupation.‎
• Social Networking sites tend to specialize in a specific topic, and there is a ‎tendency to “alienate” others. Occupation seems to be an indicator of socio-‎economic position in society and different occupations are concentrating in ‎different sites.‎

Social Networking Use in Israel: ‎
In the study was found that SNS users are on average
• Younger, more likely to be single, male, heavier users of the Internet and ‎higher in perceived self-esteem than the non users.‎
Popular and Less Popular SNS for the Adult Population of Internet Users.‎

In Israel, adults that are using SNS have a strong preference for Facebook, as 85.4 ‎percent of adults reporting using this SNS on a daily or weekly basis. At the time of ‎the survey (September 2009) an Israeli SNS Mekusharim was in second place, ‎Myspace in third place. Twitter was growing fast with already almost 12 percent of ‎the users. ‎
Are Adult Men and Women using the Same SNS?‎

Adult men and women are not evenly distributed among the users of SNS. While 45 ‎percent of the adult men are SNS users, they are over represented in Linked-in, Hi5, ‎Twitter and Mekusharim. On the other side, 55 percent of all the adult women are ‎SNS users and are over represented only Myspace but clearly under represented in ‎Linked in and Twitter.‎
It appears that at this point the use of male and women of SNS follows gender ‎traditional roles. Facebook seems to be a universal SNS that is been used almost ‎equally by both men and women. Men have a higher preference for business like ‎social media, being overrepresented in Linked-in that is used mainly to make ‎occupational and business contacts. Men are also over represented in Twitter, possible ‎because of the option of communicating short messages. At the same time, women are ‎more likely to be in Myspace that has a greated appealing for artists and music lovers.‎

Occupational Preferences of SNS

In the same way that men and women are not evenly distributed in SNS expressing ‎preferences, a similar picture is found when looking at the distribution of the use of ‎SNS according to occupational categories.‎
Managers are 12.3 percent of the sample of SNS users, but are clearly over ‎represented in Linked-In, MySpace, TheMarker Café and Mekusharim. ‎
Salaried workers are almost 45 percent of the sample and are under represented in The ‎Marker Café, Linked In and Twitter that are social media that has some occupational ‎appealing. The unemployed are 11 percent of the sample and only over represented in ‎Mekushariim. Students are 31 percent of the sample are over represented in Twitter, ‎Myspace and Facebook.‎
Study Characteristics:‎

Data for this study was collected on September 2009. The study included a sample of ‎Internet users that were approached by a company that has expertise in the use of a ‎panel of Internet users for conducting web based surveys.‎
In the study participated 1264 Internet users from Israel that answered a web based ‎survey of 45 questions that took about 30 minutes to complete.‎
Characteristics of the sample
It is interesting to describe the demographic composition of the sample. The average ‎age of the sample was 29.16 years old (S.d. 6.77). From the individuals responding ‎the survey 44.1 percent were married and 55.9 percent single. The representation of ‎respondents according to nationality was closed to the representation of the groups in ‎the population and turn out that 80.6 percent were Israeli Jews and 19.4 percent Israeli ‎Arabs. Regarding Gender composition 46 percent were males and 54 percent ‎females. In terms of education it was found that 5.5 percent of the sample had less ‎than high school education, 28.2.8 % had high school education, 58.1 partial or ‎completed college education and 8.3 percent a graduate degree. Individuals were ‎asked to report their income in categories and it was found that 38.8 percent reported ‎an income under the Israeli average family income, 42.8 percent had an average ‎income and 18.4 percent an above average family income.‎
Regarding the use of social networking sites 62.7 percent reported a daily or weekly ‎use of a social networking site and on average they had a profile in 2 social network ‎sites. From the ones using a social networking site, there are differences in the ‎frequency of use.‎

Does social networking use increase self-esteem?

These are the results of my new paper, to be presented at the Annual Meeting of the MSS-NCSA in Chicago March 31-April 4 2010

The Effect of Social networking sites and online communication on Self-Esteem: A longitudinal Study.

Gustavo Mesch, Department of Sociology, U of Haifa

gustavo@soc.haifa.ac.il

Self-esteem refers to the perception and evaluation that we have ‎about ourselves. Is the outcome of social interactions both with ‎significant and generalized others.‎
High self esteem has been linked to occupational success, healthy ‎social relationships and academic achievement. Low self esteem ‎to problematic outcomes including depressive symptoms and anti ‎social behavior. ‎
As online communication is more integrated in the social life of a ‎vast percentage of the population and social interaction is both ‎offline and online
RQ1: Does online social interaction affects self-esteem?‎
As the ecology of online communication is more diversified
RQ:2 Which types of online social interaction affect self-esteem? ‎

Previous studies limitations
‎1. limited to specific populations (college students and youth).‎
‎2. Examined SNS effects isolated from other CMC channels.‎
‎3. Mostly cross-sectional limiting conclusions that can be reached. ‎
‎4. Most of the studies do not differentiate purpose of SNS use.‎
This study used a longitudinal online survey of adult Internet ‎users and the effects of the frequency and types of use of Social ‎Networking Sites (SNS), e-mail, Instant Messenger (I.M.) and ‎weblogs on self esteem was studied. ‎
Theory and hypothesis: “sociometer hypothesis”‎
‎ According to this hypothesis self-esteem is essentially a ‎psychological meter, which monitors the quality of people’s ‎relationships with others, the extent that are being accepted or ‎rejected. Quality with others is monitored online and offline.‎
R1: What is the effect of frequency of SNS use, types of SNS ‎use and other online communication on changes in self-esteem ‎over time?‎
One important tenet of this perspective is that an important ‎antecedent of self esteem are changes in relational evaluations, the ‎degree to which we perceive that others regard their relationships ‎with us as valuable, important and close.‎
H1: Perceived social support is positively associated with changes ‎over time on self-esteem. The higher the perceived social support ‎the higher the positive change over time in self-esteem. ‎
The sociometer perspective assumes that evidence of low ‎
relational evaluation (particularly, a decrement in relational ‎evaluation is detected), the “sociometer” attracts the person’s ‎attention to the potential threat to social acceptance and motivates ‎him or her to action. Perceived social support reflects perceived ‎change in attitudes of others to us. ‎

H3: Social support is negatively associated with change over time ‎in the use of online communication channels. The lower the ‎perceived social support the higher the increase over time in the ‎use of SNS, e-mail, I.M. and Weblogs.‎

Data and methods
Longitudinal study of Internet users that responded to an online ‎survey that included 51 items asking their pattern of use of the ‎Internet and SNS. Data collection was conducted in April 2008 ‎and the second in September 2009 (n=455) ‎
Variables
Self-Esteem. Frequency of SNS use. SNS use for maintaing social ‎ties.SNS use for expanding social ties. Social support. E-mail, ‎I.M., Weblog use.Frequency of Internet use.Socio-demographic ‎variables. ‎
I used an ordinary least squares (OLS) lagged dependent ‎variable regression model, that is also called a conditional change ‎model to test the hypotheses

Average Age 29.14 years old (range 18-45 years old), ‎
Gender: 45 percent were male and 55 percent women. ‎
‎30 percent had high school education or less, 32 percent technical ‎or partial college education and 30 percent full college education. ‎
‎84.5 percent currently have a profile in a SNS, 69 percent ‎regularly use I.M., 24 percent write in a weblog and 99 percent ‎send and receive electronic mail. ‎
The most salient finding of this study is the effect of online communication use over time on self-esteem, supporting the argument that as ‎online communication has been integrated in everyday social interaction, online interactions have a real effect on self esteem.‎
Another important finding of the study relates to the use of SNS. Following previous studies it was assumed that frequency of use and type of ‎use will be associated with changes over time in self-esteem. Differentiating between different uses, it was found that the effect over time on the ‎psychological well-being of individuals is more likely to be positive. Our study also qualifies this finding and provides new insights to the ‎understanding of their role. Frequency of use and using SNS for conserving social ties was not associated with changes in self esteem. Yet, the ‎use for social tie expansion was found to be positively associated with changes in self-esteem. This result may be explained in terms of the role ‎of social comparison through the life cycle. During adulthood there is an increased need of comparisons with dissimilar others. Comparisons ‎with dissimilar others satisfy the need to feel unique, worthwhile and special. Furthermore professional and occupational competition fosters the ‎need for comparison with young individuals that compete in the same profession 3 .‎
‎ Following the sociometer hypothesis the study found that SNS are being used as compensation for lack of social support. Individuals that report ‎a low perception of social support, as predicted by the sociometer hypothesis are motivated to use SNS to expand their social ties (see findings of ‎Table 3) and to write in blogs (see findings Table 4). This motivation is consistent with the compensation hypothesis that argues that individuals ‎that report a low level of social support make use of online communication to compensate for the lack of support in face to face interacions. ‎However, the results of their actions seem to differ. An increase in the use of SNS for the expansion of social ties results in an increase in the ‎reported self esteem. Conversely, writing in a blog does not provide the expected outcome and an increase in the use of weblogs results in a ‎negative change in the reported perception of self-esteem. It is possible that the difference is associated with the different reactivity of the ‎platforms. Much of the blog writing might be read but less likely to create reactions among its readers.‎