The use of Social Media amongst College Students: An Article Critique

Social media has emerged into the daily life of individuals from across the globe. It has been a platform and will continue to be a stage for communication and sharing perspectives. Social media is essential for especially the younger generations. This study by Jamal Al-Menayes investigates the fields of social media and the effectiveness of social media for college students. The research objective for this study is to assess the use of social media in a sample of university students. “Grounded in the theory uses and gratification, the current research sought to delineate user motivation with exploratory factor analysis” (Al-Menayes, 2015, p.43).  There is much debate about “uses and gratifications (U&G) theory”. (Al-Menayes, 2015) This approach has demonstrated the ability to entice new research and examinations of mass media usage (Al-Menayes, 2015).

“According to Ruggiero (2000), “adopting the uses and gratifications approach will allow researchers to outline and comprehend the significance of the uses of mediated communication, along with numerous variables that should be taken into account for any type of media analysis” (p.43).  The current research assesses the magnitudes of social media and reevaluates the psychology of the numerous uses of social media. In order to complete this study, the researcher used a cross sectional survey methodology in which a questionnaire was given to 1327 undergraduate students with their agreement. The research questions are the following: “What are the motivations behind social media and what are the correlates of various motivations for using social media?” (p.45). The sample and procedures consisted of a self-administered survey questionnaire. “ Because young people constitute the core users of social media, the data was collected from a sample of purposively selected college students” (p.45).

According to the researcher, “students were assured of anonymity and confidentiality, and their participation for voluntary” (p.45). The age of the participants ranged from 18 to 31 with 96%  fluctuating between 18 to 25 years of age. The mean age of the participants of the study was 21.87 years. The participants were 395 (29.8%) male and 931 (70.2%) female. “The instrument consisted of both Likert scale questions to measure the individuals perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors as well as demographic questions about media use patterns” (Al-Menayes, 2015, p.45).  The study consumed a arrangement of interpersonal, media and new technology to evaluate the use of social media. In order to build the social motives scale, the study compiled the following elements: interpersonal, media, social media motives (Al-Menayes, 2015). Three items were used to characterize 15 potential a priori categories, “and adapted several statements from previous research to the social media context” (p.45).

The 5-point likert scale (5=exactly, 1=not at all) was used to obtain their reasoning behind the social media usage.  “The motivation items were subjected to principle-component analysis with varimax rotation to extract and interpret possible social media motives. An eigenvalue of 1.0 or greater was required to retain a factor, which also had to contain two items loading criterion at a minimum” (p.45). The retained variables were converted into numeric variables and saved in the data file for consequent analysis (Al-Menayes, 2015). The respondents answered questions in regards to their experience with social media and the amount of hours they spent using social media on average. Respondents were also asked to indicate their satisfaction with social media. The study used a single item to measure satisfaction with social media usage. The results indicated that “99% of the sample of students use social media and 51% said while driving they use social media, 58% stated that they met someone in person they first ran into on social media” (Al-Menayes, 2015, p.46). Twenty-two likert scale items were used in the questionnaire and exploratory factor analysis was performed on their items to discover their essential factors. There were five themes representing the use of social media: entertainment, personal utility, information seeking, convenience and altruism (Al-Menayes, 2015).

The first factor accounted for 25.61% variance after rotation, information seeking accounted for 12.34% of the variance, information seeking accounted for 7.53 % of variance, convenience consisted of 6.21% of the variance and finally, helping others consisted of 4.90% of the variance after rotation (Al-Menayes, 2015). Entertainment and information seeking had the maximum mean scores; entertainment was (M=4.30, SD=.87) and information seeking was (M=4.01, SD=.97). Regression analysis indicated that females were more probable to use social media than males for entertainment purposes and less prone to use it for personal utility. The research indicated, the more exposure the respondents has to their social media, the more probable it is used for entertainment and personal utility purposes (r=.16, r=.10, p<.01) (Al-Menayes, 2015).

Conclusion of the Study

The study examined the use of social media amongst undergraduate students. The study concluded that social media is used for personal use. “Based on the factor analysis of the responses from a sample of 1326 students, five dimension emerged:  entertainment, personal utility, information seeking, convenience and altruism, “these dimensions were subsequently correlated with communication related variable to measure their impact” (Al-Menayes, 2015, p.48).

Limitations and Strengths of the Study

The study provided a synopsis of social media and the use of social media by college students. In addition, it indicated their reasoning behind the social media usage. The study added to the current body of research on social media. The research is still ongoing but this study provided a perspective on college students. The study was conducted at Kuwait University. These results are only indicating their usage of social media.  The limitations consisted of: “definition of some constructs might limit the scope of the study” (Al-Menayes, 2015, p.49) The data was limited to college students.  Finally, “ the cross sectional data utilized for this study do not merit as assertion of any relationships between independent variable and dependent variable” (Al-Meayes, 2015, p.49)

The study shadowed the uses and gratifications approach to evaluate social media outcomes. There were five emergent themes that transpired from the responses of 1326 college students. “The remaining variables “time spent using social media per day” and satisfaction with social media were both correlated with all motivation dimensions except altruism which had no significant correlation with any dimension” (p.48). Further research should be conducted on the cultural barriers with social media and the complexity of social media.

 

References

Menayes., J (2015). Motivations for using social media: An exploratory factor analysis,      International journal of psychological studies, 7,1,43-50

 

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