Research Paper: Consumption of Social Network and Loneliness:
It is a common practice for people especially youths to spend a significant part of their time to navigate through social networking sites. They have an array of details that attract people to join them. Therefore, face to face communication is not compulsory especially for people in different geographical places because they prefer to communicate online. To some extent, social communication through the Internet is effective although it cannot match the face to face communication. This is because the latter provides instant feedback and the recipient can gauge the level of genuineness, as opposed to social media where Internet paradox is common. Ahlqvst, Back, Halonen & Heinonen (2008) add “social media refers to a combination of three elements: content, user communities and web technologies” (p. 3).
Many people claim that social media reduces boredom and loneliness. Zakahi and Duran (1985) state “social experience accounts for much variance as social confirmation and dyadic apprehension” (p. 56). Cases of people turning to social media during their lone moments are quite common. Facebook is one of the most common social networking sites that many people confess to engage whenever they are bored or lonely. Mandiberg (2012) adds “The modern social technology includes social media like online commenting systems and Facebook, media for creative personal expression like blogs and podcasts, and new channels of distribution like Twitter” (p. 80). During the study, emotional loneliness served as the dependent variable while social media platforms were the independent variable.
Purpose of the Study
The study investigated the relationship between the continued use of social media and loneliness among social media users. The researcher focused on students because they form part of the youth group that records high use of social networking sites.
The following objectives guided the researcher:
- Identify the relationship between social media use and emotional loneliness.
- Gauge the degree to which social media finds acceptance in today’s world.
- Is there any relationship between social media use and loneliness?
- What are the trends in social media use?
- Does regular use of social networking sites result to addiction?
Significance of the Study
The study will help social media users to identify the interdependence between use and loneliness. In addition, it will explain the effects of social networking such as addiction from a psychological point of view. Technology designers will gain valuable information on effective ways of socializing through the Internet.
The study had some limitations because the researcher found it difficult to control direct variables. Some questions in the questionnaires might have initiated anger and the respondents might have answered them vaguely.
Assumptions of the Study
The following assumption laid the basis of the research:
- That there is a degree of correlation between social networking and loneliness
The researcher employed a descriptive survey because it allows them to collect, analyze and interpret data in explanatory and preliminary studies.
Additionally, it allows them to determine and research a phenomenon the way it is because they manipulate neither the dependent nor independent variable. It also provides the researcher with statistical data about issues that attract social media developers.
The researcher used questionnaires to collect data because they have administrative advantages over other methods. They also provide an even stimulus to many people through simultaneous accumulation of data. The fact that they allow anonymity allows respondents to provide candid answers, as opposed to an interview. The brief questionnaires sought answers on the extent to which people use social media and the relationship with social isolation.
The researcher obtained datum from one hundred and sixty six students from the University of Washington. Any statement that the researcher makes about the sample should reflect the truth about them.
Scope of the Study
The researcher conducted a study in the University of Washington. It examined the relationship between social media use and loneliness in relation to continued use of many social networking sites. In addition, one hundred and sixty six students took part in the study while questionnaires served as a major data collection tool.
The researcher carried out a study in the University of Washington, in America. The ideal study location ought to be accessible to the researcher. This will allow them to create a rapport with the informants. Moreover, reports from the university’s social department indicated that students exhibit interdependence on social media when they are idle. It is crucial for the researcher to gather obtain empirical data regarding the students’ dependence on social media.
Before collecting the actual data, the researcher ran a pilot study in the neighboring George Washington University, and the participants were eighty-four students from the institution. A pilot study enabled the researcher to test the reliability and validity of research instruments. Additionally, it allowed them to familiarize with the distribution of questionnaires. This improved the research design and instruments.
Operational Definition of Terms
- Consumption: The act of utilizing a certain resource
- Data: Facts that an individual, especially a researcher collects for analysis and interpretation.
- Dependent variable: what a researcher measures and other factors affect it during the experiment. Letter (y) denotes the dependent variable.
- Independent variable: A measure that does not depend on any factor and the researcher can manipulate it at will. Letter (x) denotes an independent variable.
- Internet paradox: A social communication technology, which minimizes an individual’s social and emotional welfare.
- Loneliness: A feeling of solitude due to lack of friends or active company.
- Phenomenon: A situation that people find quite challenging to explain.
- Questionnaire: A sheet of paper that contains a number of questions for statistical and research survey.
- Sample: An illustrative quantity that shows the image of the whole population.
- A social networking site: An online service that attracts social contacts among individuals with common interests.
- Social media: Online applications and websites that aid social networking.
- Survey: To observe closely
The study found an affirmative correlation between loneliness and social media use. The percentage of students, who agreed totaled to 76.5% of the entire population that took part in the study. However, 12% disagreed while 11.5% expressed both outcomes. That is, they agreed with some aspects and disagreed with others.
The positive correction that the researcher recorded between social loneliness and Internet use suggests that people use the Internet for social networking alongside other purposes. For instance, most students use the itas an educational tool for research. The researcher found a negative correlation between regular Internet use and emotions because it does not affect an individual’s psychological composure.
The researcher generalized some issues because the study relied on answers from youthful students and no representatives of other age groups. It is a fact that the youths and especially students visit the social sites mostly, but the population was also small for the researcher to make generalizations. Social networking is one of the latest practices in the modern social world. Many people also embrace the social media for commercial and political purposes.
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