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Title:College student social networking and its relationship to perceived social support
Author(s):Ruud, Collin
Director of Research:Cain, Timothy R.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Cain, Timothy R.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Bragg, Debra D.; Chang, Hua-Hua; Hood, Denice W.
Department / Program:Educ Policy, Orgzn & Leadrshp
Discipline:Ed Organization and Leadership
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Social Networking
College Students
Student Development
Social Support
University Belonging
Student Ooutcomes
Abstract:This study examined the relationships between integration into popular social networking site Facebook and feelings of social support and university belonging among traditional college-age students. The study bears importance to higher education, as it examines a technology that students use with ever-increasing frequency in order to interact with individuals both in and out of their institution of higher education. While prior research has examined a number of outcomes related to Internet and social networking behaviors, there was little that examined how students felt supported or felt they belong to their institution in relation to their online behaviors. By researching the relationships between social networking technology use and students’ perceptions of social support and belonging, we can better understand the importance of such technologies on an important facet of college students’ experiences. The research strategy involved the administration of an online survey to over 150 students at a large, Midwestern research university, age 18 through 22. The instruments used in the study were the Facebook Intensity Scale (FIS), the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS), and the Psychological Sense of School Membership (PSSM) scales, along with items examining students’ demographic characteristics, Internet use history, and items intended to supplement the FIS by determining different interactive experiences of students with peers and friends from high school. Variables were analyzed using multiple linear regression, with demographics and Internet use history variables used as controls. The study found many notable relationships between the measured constructs and variables. In regards to the influence of Facebook on social support and university belonging, significant relationships were found. Several items in the FIS were found to be significantly related with MSPSS and PSSM scales and subscales. Other variables, such as the use of Facebook to stay connected with friends from high school, had similar relationships to the PSSM and portions of the MSPSS. Even when controlled by demographic and Internet use history variables, several of these items were significant. This study demonstrates the importance in examining the online behaviors of today’s college students, and to continue to investigate the domains and outcomes that are related to use of sites such as Facebook. Although this current study was exploratory by nature and its sample relatively small, it aids in understanding how college students commonly utilize online technologies for social interaction, and found notable and significant relationships that better inform both practitioners of higher education and researchers interested in similar topics. 
Issue Date:2013-05-24
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Collin Ruud
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-05-24
Date Deposited:2013-05

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