UNIVERSITY OF CAPE COASTCOLLEGE OF HUMANITIES AND LEGAL STUDIESFACULTY OF ARTSDEPARTMENT OF COMMUNICATION STUDIESOF GRATIFICATIONS AND OUTCOMES: A CASE STUDY OF NEGATIVE SOCIAL MEDIA EFFECTS AMONG UNIVERSITY OF CAPE COAST FACULTY OF ARTS STUDENTSBY EKOW MENSAH KAKRAA LONG ESSAY PRESENTED TO THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNICATION STUDIES, FACULTY OF ARTS, COLLEGE OF HUMANITIES AND LEGAL STUDIES IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENT FOR THE AWARD OF A BACHELOR OF ARTS DEGREE IN COMMUNICATION STUDIES.JUNE 2018DECLARATION I, Kakra Ekow Mensah, do hereby declare that except for scholarly works which have been duly acknowledged. This long essay, being submitted in partial fulfilment for the award of a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Degree in Communication Studies is the outcome of my own research under the Supervision of Mr.Theophilus Attram Nartey of the Department of Communication Studies, University of Cape Coast. I further affirm that this work has not been submitted to any university either in part or in whole for the award of any degree.
Student: Kakra Ekow MensahSignature: ……………………Date: …………………………Supervisor: Mr.Theophilus Attram NarteySignature: …………………………………Date: ……………………………………….DEDICATIONI dedicate this work to my mum Comfort Adjei Gaisie, and Rev.
Kweku Atta Dickson.ACKNOWLEDGEMENTI hereby acknowledge Jehovah God Almighty to whom I owe my life. I am also grateful to my supervisor, Mr. Theophilus Attram Nartey for his support to the successful conduct of this study.
ABSTRACTThis study, employing a mixed methodology, explored negative effects associated with social media, examining how deliberate gratifications seeking predispose users to experiencing such outcomes as addiction and depression. Using Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory of Self-Regulation and the Uses and Gratifications theory, this study used 50 University of Cape Coast Faculty of Arts students and investigated their use of Facebook.The study found out that, a majority of students are “normal” users who spend an average of 15 – 45 minutes online. The major need of students who use Facebook is to keep in touch with friend, with their preferred online activities being viewing feeds and chatting. The analysis of data proved little grounds for the possible occurrence or and prevalence of such outcomes as Facebook addiction and depression.
The study concluded that, frequency and duration of usage, as well as the type of online activity is insufficient to predicting social media addictions. It would be problematic to establish absolute indexes in declaring addiction since usage patterns, needs and gratifications differ among different users. Also, the level of an individual’s self-control or influence over media consumption is significant to assessing addiction. Future research should consider a large number of sample size and more qualitative laden approach. Table of ContentsChapter One 8INTRODUCTION 81.0 Background to Study 81.
1 Problem Statement 141.2 Rationale of the study 151.3 Significance of the study 161.
4 LIMITATION 161.5 ORGANIZATION 171.6 Chapter Summary 17Chapter Two 18Theoretical Framework 182.0 INTRODUCTION 182.1 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK 182.2 REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE 222.4 SUMMARY OF CHAPTER 35CHAPTER THREE 36METHODOLOGY 363.1 Introduction 363.
2 Research Design 363.3 Research field 373.4 Study Population 383.5 Sampling Technique 393.6 Data collection and analysis 393.7 Limitations 403.
8 Ethical principles 403.9 Chapter Summary 40CHAPTER FOUR 42DISCUSSION AND DATA ANALYSIS OF FINDINGS 424.0 Introduction 424.1 Overview of questionnaires administration and interviews 434.
2.1 Research Objective 1: The major sought gratifications of students. 444.2.2 Research Objective 2: The possible occurrence of such negative or unwanted 484.
2.3 Research Objective 3: The extent to which students are aware, perceive or concerned 54CHAPTER FIVE 57SUMMARY, RECOMMENDATIONS AND CONCLUSION 575.1 INTRODUCTION 575.2 SUMMARY OF STUDY 575. 3 KEY FINDINGS 585.4 RECOMMENDATIONS 595.
5 CONCLUSION 60Reference 61APPENDIX A 65INTERVIEW GUIDE 65APPENDIX B 66QUESTIONAIRE 66Chapter OneINTRODUCTION1.0 Background to StudyMedia technologies and products are meant to serve various communication and social needs. However, through our exposure to, and in our deliberate uses of media for our own intended purposes, these products and technologies influence and affect us in a variety of ways, thus supporting the assertion that there is a two-way relationship between media and audiences. That is, audiences are exposed to and use media, and the media in turn affects audiences. With the interests of scholars in gaining understanding about ways media affect us dating as far back as 1900, there are differences in perspectives, explanations and conclusions about the effects of the media on audiences (Baran & Davis, 2010).Expressing the view that “controversy surrounds the way the media affect us” and how the effects occur, Morrissey and Warr (2001) mention two main schools of thoughts in scholarly studies about the relationship between media and audiences – active and passive theories. While passive theories emphasize the irresistible power of the media in manipulating audience’s cognitions, beliefs and behaviours, active theories focus on the “complex ways in which media products and their audiences interact and how individuals respond” (Morrisey ; Warr, 2001:368).
With respect to these varying notions, it is worth acknowledging the fact that “social theories, including media theory are never completely innovative and are always the product of the particular era in which they are constructed” (Baran ; Davis 2010:24).Moreover, we are currently in “the fourth era of mass communication theory, the emergence of meaning making perspective. This era recognizes that mass communication can indeed be powerful, or somewhat powerful, or not powerful at all, because active audience members can (and often do) use media content to create meaningful experiences for themselves” Baran ; Davis 2010:40). In the view of Sundar and Limperos (2013), “‘active audience’ has reached a pinnacle to capture the purposiveness and attentiveness in media consumption and contrast it with the general assumption of a ‘passive audience’ among media effects scholars” (p.504). In other words, individuals are conscious of their engagement with media and its ensuing effects and also have self-determined motives for their uses of media products.
This understanding of media usage is in contradiction with notions like propaganda and magic bullet theory which downplay on users’ intelligence.Parallel to the prominence of an active audience paradigm is an ongoing revolution in media technologies, the emergence of a digital environment with such popular products as social media. It is apparently evident that the nature of modern media technologies and products are unique in terms of speed, size, utility, among other features. While previously the notion of ”media” referred to a handful of mass communication tools such as newspapers, radio, television, and film, the current academic conception of media is broader, reflecting the proliferation of new communication technologies in recent times (Sundar & Limperos, 2013). Baran and Davis (2010:23) observe that “we are in the midst of a revolution in communication technology that many scholars believe is transforming social cultures around the world”. They add that “each new technological device expands the possible uses of existing technologies and that these technologies create media systems that serve a broad range of highly specific purposes” (p.23).
Central to an active audience paradigm is the concept of gratifications. Gratifications can be defined as the satisfaction or pleasure gained as a result of one’s use of specific media. Gratifications are directly linked to various individual needs and other factors not borne by users. For example, Alhabash, Chiang and Huang (2014) found that entertainment, self-expression, medium appeal, information sharing, self-documentation, socialization, and escapism significantly affect the use of Facebook. Likewise, Xu, Ryan and Wen (2012) provided that utilitarian gratifications of immediate access and coordination, hedonic gratifications of affection and leisure dictate the use of social media. Han et al. (2015) also noted that gratification of social connection needs significantly affects Twitter users’ continued usage intention.
Raacke and Bonds-Raacke (2008) found the following gratifications obtained from SNS: keep in touch with old/current friends, post/look at pictures, make new friends, locate old friends, learn about events, post-social functions, feel connected, share information, academic purposes and dating. More also, Gan (2016) identify four general gratifications for using different social media: hedonic gratification, affection gratification, information gratification and social gratification. Needs, uses and gratifications can be described as three points or variables of media consumption process. That is, one’s needs or situation would influence his or her choice and use of media and that his or her use of media would also influence the outcome (gratifications). Gratifications of media use are thus the outcomes which satisfy the very needs that trigger media use. Moreover, as people use and derive gratifications from media, there are associated outcome. While these outcomes can be argued on one hand as the very expected gratifications borne by users, there is the possibility of an outcome being unexpected and/or negative.
Technically, the seventh variable given in the definition of the uses and gratifications theory by Katz, Blumler and Gurevitch (1974) – “other consequences, perhaps mostly unintended ones” – brings this issue into focus. More succinctly, Klapper (1963) emphasized the essence of investigating the consequences of use rather than simply describing media use as earlier researchers had done. Similarly, the impressions of Palmgreen (1984) presented in a review of the uses and gratifications theory maintain that there has been a less concentration of research by academics and practitioners on the aspect of the uses and gratifications framework definition which addresses issues about the origins of mass media usage needs as well as unintended consequences of need gratification (Miller, 2002). In that light, outcomes can be defined as by products associated with the needs gratification activity of media users. Evidently, one of the prominent topics at the fore of the discourse about modern media technology and society is “social media”. The “social” label of this subject denotes its widespread recognition and central position in every day social and individual living. Inasmuch as traditional media maintain a premier position and prestige, new media (social media) has emerged as a powerful product which commands relatively greater attention in media discourse.
Similarly, the World Wide Web has been radically transformed, shifting from an information repository to a more social environment where users are not only passive receivers or active harvesters of information, but also creators of content (Bruns, 2008). In this respect, new media technologies like social media can be talked of as having greatly expanded our options for entertainment and information content, among other sought needs and gratifications.According to Kaplan and Haenlein (2010:61) social media can be defined as “a group of internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of web 2.
0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content”. Today, social media has become pervasive, impacting the social fabric of our society and changing the nature of social relationships. It has revolutionized the way we communicate, interact and socialize. In essence, new technologies help facilitate and provide flexibility in communicating and sharing of resources (Al-sharki, Hashim, and Kutbi, 2015:122). Therefore, the view of McLuhan (1964) relayed by Griffin (2000:315) stands true, that “channels of communication are the primary cause of cultural change. Family life, the workplace, schools, health care, friendship, religious worship, recreation, politics – nothing remains untouched by communication technology”. By establishing its complete scope, this study extends the bounds of discussion from the exploration of media effects to encompass social media, its gratification affordances and the outcomes associated with its usage. Taking social media as a popular present-day technology and a “mainstream media platform that connects one-third of the world’s population” (Nelson-Field & Taylor, 2012), an interesting question, within the context of an “active audience and digital media era” would be why, or for what purposes, do people use social media and what does social media do to its users? With the support of an active audience theory like Uses and Gratifications to the argument that users are attentive, purposeful and selective in their use of social media, there is still relevance in the quest to examining the manifestations of “unwanted outcomes” associated with these “purposeful choices” as well as the extent of user concern and or awareness of these outcomes.
Prior to the emergence of social media, both professionals and academics have been engaged in the discourse about its utility, gratifications offerings, and effects (negative, positive, unexpected and unwanted). Although Sundar and Limperos (2013), citing Worthman (2011) and Joinson (2008), give the impressions that new media do not actually provide any new gratifications which cannot be obtained in traditional media, they report personal identity enhancement and photo sharing as new gratifications from using Instagram and Facebook, the popular social networking site. Consequently, smart phones and social media applications have become an integral part of adolescents’ daily lives and is for the majority, the most popular form of electronic communication. Within this context, social media can be described more as a “social product” than a “technological product” (Rajeev and Jobilal, 2015).With respect to its application and impact on commerce, Dolan, Conduit, Fahy and Goodman (2016) posit that social media platforms and corresponding consumer adoption in recent years have caused a paradigm shift, significantly shaping the ways customers engage with brands, adding that organizations recognize the social and network value of engagement within social media, and practitioners are making efforts to building engagement through their social media content. In his study on gratifications and chronic loneliness, Leung (2009) found that surveillance, affection, and social interaction were strongest instrumental use of the Internet followed by ritualized use such as entertainment, escape, and arousal.Furthermore, some studies and discussions, on the other hand, focus on the negative impact associated with social media.
Amedie (2015) outlines three major negative effects of social media: false sense of online connections and superficial friendships leading to emotional and psychological problems; social media addictions that easily corrode personal and family ties as well as interpersonal skill, leading to anti-social behavior; social media presents itself as a tool for criminals, predators and terrorists. He avers that excessive amount of time spent on social media predispose users to depressions as they seek acceptance in a superficial network. Foer (2013), bemoans how technological advancements in media and communication have corroded our very “human” nature, negatively affecting the quality of time we spend with one another. While acknowledging how media inventions and innovations have significantly made easy communication as well as removing the constraints of face-to-face communication, Foer (2013) also impresses that “these inventions were not created to be improvements upon face-to-face communication, but a declension of acceptable, substitutes for it. He expresses worry about how gradually we are becoming alienated from the larger social world through our use of media technologies and products which keep us minding our own businesses. His remarks on this phenomenon presents social media as a tool with “a two-edged power”. He states: “technology celebrates connectedness but encourages retreat” Our concern for, attachment to, and affection for fellow humans are changing negatively with our use of media technologies in that, “the more distracted we become, the more emphasis we place on speed at the expense of depth, the less likely we are able to care and our relationships to the world, and to one another, and to ourselves are becoming miserly”. This situation, in the view of Foer (2013) is part of the price we will forever pay for our technological advancements in communication.
1.1 Problem StatementWhile existing literature (Amedie (2015), Dolan et al. (2016) and Sundar and Limperos (2013)) reflect scholarly appreciation and undertakings on the subject of social media’s utility and effects on society, it is also evident that not much studies have been done on examining the negative effects of social media in juxtaposition with the gratifications it offers. While extant work has been carried out on media effects in general, considerably less work has been done on social media related effects. Notwithstanding the fact that appreciably few studies have addressed negative effects associated with social media, there is a disconnection, between social media user motivations and resultant effects or outcomes in these literature, a problem this study seeks to address. By setting their focus on addressing the “dark side” of social media, existing literature neglects a significant aspect of the phenomena – the user motivations that drive social media usage. In other words, studies about the negative effects of social media give insightful accounts about the nature of the effects but concentrate less on the essential question of what actually predisposes social media users to negative outcomes. Therefore, whilst many studies (Christakis (2010), Kulindiaraj (2014), Rajeev and Jobilal (2015)) predominantly have their focus on addressing negative outcomes in isolation, this undertaking assumes a perspective of examining how the nature and motives of social media usage impact the occurrences of negative outcomes.
1.2 Rationale of the studyBasing on the hypothesis that social media users are primarily exposed to negative and unexpected outcomes through their deliberate choices of media to satisfying sought gratifications, this study sets out to examine the negative and unexpected outcomes associated with social media use. It seeks to assess the paradox present in the case of an active audience who are aware of their motivations and needs vis-à-vis their awareness and or perceptions of unwanted outcomes associated with their choices.
This study takes into consideration such variables as activity, duration and frequency of usage to assess two classic examples of negative social media effects – Facebook addiction and depression. In other words, this study – taking into account what students do online, the amount of time they spend online and how often they use social media (Facebook) – would examine the case of unwanted outcomes associated with an active audience (social media users), who are aware of their motivations for using social media in juxtaposition with their awareness, perception or concern for these outcomes. This study seeks to answer such questions as:1.2.1 Research Questions1.
What are the major sought gratifications of University of Cape Coast Faculty of Arts students for using social media?2. How likely are the concurrence of such negative outcomes as Facebook depression and addiction among Faculty of Arts students?3. To what extent are students aware, perceive or concerned about negative outcomes associated with social media?1.3 Significance of the studyAs an addition to the general extant works on media effects, this study would offer significant contribution to existing literature on social media related risks and outcomes especially as test to how existing insight of effects can be validated in the context of a “Ghanaian tertiary user”. In other words, the outcome of this study would point out possible variances and similarities of sought gratifications and outcomes among different populations with varying demographics. It will be a useful reference to such studies that focus on social media addictions and other behavioral disorders linked to media usage.
Moreover, this study would ignite academic and professional investments into studies on social media, its utility and risks to society at large. Additionally, the findings of this study would be useful in designing therapies, programs and campaigns that aim at addressing behavioral problems linked with excessive media exposure or usage. To the individual, this would increase his or her awareness about the side effects of social media.1.4 LIMITATIONA major limitation of this study is the limited time within which it was conducted. The limited time affected the size of population chosen for this study. Having a limited time for the conduct of this study translated into the problem of research fatigue on the side on the researcher.
In addition, the reluctance of respondents to cooperate and answer questionnaires led to a compromise on the size of data collected for analysis. 1.5 ORGANIZATIONThe structure of this paper is presented as follows. The first chapter of this research presents an introduction which establishes the background. Chapter two focuses on a review of related literature while chapter three addresses the methodology and theoretical framework used for this research. The fourth chapter is committed to data analysis and discussion of results. The final chapter provides conclusions and recommendations.1.
6 Chapter SummaryThis chapter presented a background to the research under study and by so doing identifies the gap which it seeks to fill. It includes the problem statement, rationale and significance of the study, as well as objectives of this study. Having established the background through an exploration of some key concepts in this study, the next chapter, chapter two, addresses the methodology and theoretical framework for the study.Chapter TwoTheoretical Framework2.
0 INTRODUCTIONThe first chapter introduced the study by giving a background to the study and stating the problem, research questions, limitations as well as the significance of the study. This chapter provides a theoretical framework of the study and also reviews related literature on social media gratifications and outcomes. 2.1 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK2.1.1.
a USES AND GRATIFICATIONS THEORYWith regard to the codification of the Uses and Gratifications Theory, Miller (2002) provide that the first formal statement of the uses and gratifications theory emanates from Katz, Blumler and Gurevitch (1974), who enumerated the major strokes of the uses and gratifications theoretical framework. The uses and gratifications theory, according to Katz, Blumler and Gurevitch (1974:20) is defined as ”(1) the social and psychological origins of (2) needs, which generate (3) expectations from (4) the mass media or other sources, which lead to (5) differential patterns of media exposure (or engagement in other activities), resulting in (6) need gratifications and (7) other consequences, perhaps mostly unintended ones”. Wimmer and Dominick (1994:72) posit that “Uses and Gratifications Theory originated from the 1940s when researchers became interested in why audiences involved in diverse forms of media behavior, such as listening to the radio or reading newspapers”. The central theme of Uses and Gratifications theory is that audience members are actively engaged in their choice and uses of media and that their choices are purposive, goal directed and motivated to satisfy their social and psychological needs (Liu, 2015).Generally, uses and gratifications theory is an audience-centered framework or conceptualization, which establishes that individuals have specific needs that underpin and motivate their selection of certain types of media (Rubin, 2009). The theory offers an effective framework for investigating and explaining why media products (such as Facebook) appeal to users as well as gaining an understanding of the purposes for which individuals use social media. Recently, a growing stream of research expands the U&G theory to the context of social media, attempting to explain motivations to use particular social media, such as instant messaging (IM), social networking and microblogging (Alhabash S, Chiang Y-h and Huang K 2014). Such tenets of the theory as selectivity, attention and involvement provide a base to understanding how individuals deliberately expose themselves to and choose media, their level of cognitive efforts invested in media consumption and the level of immersion and relationship established with media products.
In recent years, the theory has been revised to emphasize comparisons between the gratifications sought from a medium with gratifications obtained (LaRose, Mastro & Eastin, 2001) and with its emphasis on active media use and its ability to span both mass and interpersonal communication, uses and gratifications has been commonly regarded as a natural perspective for understanding the internet usage (Morris & Ogan, 1996). The first piece of research on the uses and gratification approach is believed to have been initiated by Herza Herzog (1944) in his quest to examining why radio shows in the late 1930s and early 1940s became popular and appealing to audiences (Miller, 2002). According to Miller (2002), a summary work of Herzog’s study by McQuail, Blumler and Brown (1972) concluded that the motives for which individuals listened and watched radio and television quiz programmes are for self-rating, social interaction, excitement and educational appeals. Such an insight is significant to contemporary scholarly understanding of the motives and needs that drive peoples’ uses of different media. Drawing attention to some salient points in the definition of the theory, the impressions of Palmgreen (1984) presented in a review of the uses and gratifications theory maintain that there has been a less concentration of research by academics and practitioners on the aspect of the uses and gratifications framework definition which addresses issues about the origins of mass media usage needs as well as unintended consequences of need gratification (Miller, 2002). This attention drawn by Palmgreen (1984) is in congruence with the objective of this study to examine the individual’s motivations for using social media as well as the negative outcomes (unwanted and unexpected) associated with their usage. In addition, the theoretical development of uses and gratifications typologies such the differentiation between “gratifications sought” and “gratifications obtained” (Miller, 2002) is instrumental in establishing whether an outcome or effect associated with media use is desirable or unwanted.
b SOCIAL COGNITIVE THEORY OF SELF-REGULATIONThe Social Cognitive Theory was developed in 1991 by Bandura. The central theme of the theory concerns focuses on individual self-control and influence on behaviour. Self-regulatory system lies at the very heart of causal processes. They not only mediate the effects of most external influences, but provide the very basis for purposeful action. In social cognitive theory, human behaviour is extensively motivated and regulated by the ongoing exercise of self-influence. The major self-regulative mechanism operates through three principal subfunctions.
The subfunctions include self-monitoring of one’s behavior, its determinants, and its effects; judgment of one’s behaviour in relation to personal standards and environmental circumstances; and affective self-reaction (Bandura, 1991). Self-regulation also encompasses the self-efficacy mechanism, which plays a central role in the exercise of personal agency by its strong impact on thought, affect, motivation, and action.In this framework, behaviour patterns that have been called media addictions lie at one extreme of a continuum of unregulated media behavior that extends from normally impulsive media consumption patterns to extremely problematic behavior that might properly be termed pathological (Bandura, 1991). These unregulated media behaviours are the product of deficient self-regulatory processes through which media consumers monitor, judge, and adjust their own behavior, processes that may be found in all media consumers (Bandura, 1991).2.
1.2 RELEVANCE OF THE THEORYThe relevance of the uses and gratifications theory to this study is laid in its very definition offered by Katz, Blumler and Gurevitch (1974) as it would help this study establish the motivations and psychological factors that underline social media usage as well as occurrences of unwanted or unexpected consequences. In essence, the very definition of the Uses and Gratifications theory encapsulates the scope and objectives of this study.A fact rooted in analysis holds that the Uses and Gratifications Theory is one of the most widely used theoretical underpinnings of communication research (Perse, 2017). According to Ruggiero (2000:3) “any attempt to speculate on the future direction of mass communication theory must seriously include the U;G approach” (p.
3). Similarly, Liu (2015) avers that the advent of computer-mediated communication has revived the importance of uses and gratifications theory. In the words of Perse (2017:1), “Uses and gratification is a dynamic approach that has adapted and expanded its scope with the development of technology in the 1980s and 1990s and the Internet and has increased program options and control”. In addition, Raacke and Bonds-Raacke (2008), support the idea that the application of uses and gratifications theory is significant to investigating the various needs individuals are meeting by using friend-networking sites (such as Facebook).Although some scholars have questioned U&G’s utility in studying the digital media, Ruggiero (2000) (as cited in Quan-Haase, 2012) avers that there is a need to “seriously include” the uses and gratifications approach in any attempt to speculate on the future direction of mass communication theory. Besides, it is contended that whenever a new technology makes its way into the arena of mass communication, users’ underlying motivations and decisions to use the new communication tool could be explained by applying the U&G paradigm (Elliott & Rosenberg, as cited in Liu, Cheung & Lee, 2010).
The Social Cognitive Theory of self-regulation, in terms of its relevance to this study, would help establish the extent of user control and influence over the usage of social media. In addition, the extent of control and influence would help establish indexes for predicting potential addiction or uncontrolled usage of social media.2.2 REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE Christakis (2010) provides a classic example of how expensive social media and internet addiction could cost – even a user’s life. He recounts how an online gamer, Lee Seung Seop, achieved his 15 minutes of fame in a most tragic fashion.
The 28-year-old boiler repairman suffered a cardiac arrest following a 50-hour internet gaming binge during which he neither ate nor slept. His death prompted an investigation into the problem of internet addiction in Korea, where current estimates are that 4% of children suffer from the disorder (Christakis, 2010).Captioning the phenomenon as a 21st century epidemic in his title, his study reflects the wide scope of the phenomenon and how pervasive its effect can be on society. His work provides insight into the dissenting scholarly impressions on the subject of internet addiction. “Internet addiction”, according to Christakis (2010) “while not yet formally established within a psychopathological framework, is increasing both in prevalence and within the public consciousness as a potentially problematic condition with many parallels to existing recognized disorders” (p. 1). His view – that the rapid and unrestrained escalation in the number of users accessing a relatively unrestricted internet generally increases the likelihood that those suffering with an underlying psychological comorbidity may be at high risk of developing an addiction to the internet (Christakis, 2010) – , communicates a strong signal to academics, practitioners and social activists about the threat “internet addiction” poses to societal wellbeing, thus making a call for urgent attention and research into the phenomenon.
With respects to academic undertakings to studying this situation he points to a flaw in their approaches. He remarks that a majority of early research depended on voluntary internet surveys without measurable denominators, convenience samples of internet users or chat room sampling (Christakis, 2010). Besides pointing to a common flaw inherent in various studies’ approaches, He opines that there is a thorny debate about whether internet addiction exists at all as an entity. Maintaining that internet addiction is currently not a formally recognized disorder, he believes the phenomenon is being considered for the forthcoming.
He avers that this scholarly disagreement on the existence of “internet addiction” can be argued as a reason for the less investment in research related to “internet addiction” as well as the poor motivation in current studies (Christakis, 2010).His study offers essential metrics which can be employed as indicators for examining cases of internet addiction such as social media addiction. Key characteristics of internet addiction, as Christakis suggests, include preoccupation with the substance or behavior; repeated unsuccessful attempts to reduce it; mood disturbances related to reduction attempts; greater usage than anticipated or desired; jeopardizing employment, relationships or education; or lying about usage. This impression made by Christakis identifies with the view of journalist and digital consultant John Boitnott that “social media can be truly addicting, which makes it tough for entrepreneurs who want to curb its use because it can be so time consuming”. Christakis provides more insight into the parameters within which “addiction” can be declared. According Christakis (2010), all existing behaviors or substances that have been shown to lead to addiction, such as alcohol, gambling, tobacco or drugs, have structural constraints on their usage either by law or by social etiquette. Despite the valuable contribution his work makes, the absence of information on the theoretical framework and methodology adopted for the work affects the acceptance of his work as a well conducted academic study.
In addition, there are legitimate questions of accuracy, empericity and validity of the conclusions of the study. It would be appropriate, in future revisions of his study to incorporate a theoretical and methodological framework to anticipate limitations that can impact the acceptance and value of his work within the academic community. That notwithstanding, the work provides rich contribution to the existing literature.Making reference to the work of Kyriaki and George (2013) which investigates the association of problematic social media usage with personality characteristics and depressive symptoms, Kulandiaraj (2014) presents that problematic social media usage is significantly and positively related to depression and neuroticism, while negatively related to agreeableness. He adds however that, problematic use of social media is not related to conscientiousness, openness to experience and extraversion, although the latter was found to be negatively associated with depression. Collectively Kulandiaraj’s research provides that, personality variables, depression and daily average usage account for about 33% of the variance in predicting problematic social networking sites usage. According to the findings of his study, social media benefited youth in such ways as helping them connect with existing friends as well as establishing links with prospective employers and recruiters.
Relating to the motivations underpinning social media usage, his study found that youth found social media participation as a great way to enjoy. In terms of negative outcomes, some of the respondents in the research admitted having been exposed to undesired image or content through their use of social media while others reported they have been exposed to images related to sex.In keeping with the position of Christakis (2010) on internet addiction, Kulandiaraj (2014) also in his study provides impressions about how social media has become fundamentally woven into the daily life of users.
Even though a majority of the respondents (109) from his study did not have a habit of starting their day with an activity in social networking sites (SNS), 74 respondents among them reported starting their day with checking what is going on with their friends in SNS. 54 respondents reported starting their day with listening to music or watching a video in SNS. By establishing that some users visit “dangerous” or “inappropriate” websites without thinking too much about it, his study contributes to the understanding of users’ perception and or consciousness about the negative effects of social media. By extension, such an insight helps measure the attitude of individuals towards social media engagement and participation. Pertaining to how such variables as frequency and duration determine the manifestation of negative outcomes, Kulandiaraj (2014) posits that “respondents who are spending 30 minutes to I hour in Social Networking Sites are highly influenced by SNS in their lifestyle than others” (p. 27).
Generally, the study of Kulandiaraj (2014) offers valuable contribution to existing literature that address issues of negative effects associated with the popular social media. The good structure of presentation and a simple language choice makes the work comprehensible. Contributing to the strength of the study was the sample size (250 participants) used for the study as well as the use of interviews as part of the methodology. The use of interviews moved the study beyond providing statistical number to a level of providing thick, rich explanation and description of issues.
In their article, Rajeev and Jobilal (2015) set out to explore the various impacts of mobile phone among the youth in social relationships with three objectives: (1) to study the influence of other social networking sites or contributing factors on the usage of mobile phones among the respondents (2) to study the extent use of that mobile phones are used the respondents (3) to analyze the positive and negative impacts of mobile phones among the respondents. In their work, there is a lack of clear distinction between the terms mobile phones and social media. As a result, their work seems to use the terms “social media” and “mobile phones” synonymously. Even though social media application functionalities and support can be argued to be a major definition of modern mobile phones, there is, in technical terms, a difference between social media and mobile phones (smartphones) – a clarification the work should have paid attention to. For example, they state in their findings: “social networking sites like mobile phones allow one person to live a life unhindered by small talk”. Such a statement suggests quite covertly that mobile phones are an example of social media. Furthermore, the choice of only 50 students for the study is relatively less and poses a limitation to the extent to which the findings can be generalized.
However, their choice of a random sampling technique enhances the objectivity of the study as such choice reduces likely biases and personal influence. In addition, the inclusion of both genders in the study population was essential to determining how social media effects could vary with respect to gender. The findings of their study establish that multiple usage of internet, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, goggle sites, among others, and directly affect the respondents in carrying out duties, responsibilities, academic work and social skills. Rajeev and Jobilal (2015) infer that “social networking sites usage influence the academic performance and a large percentage of respondents (88 %) gave moderate level of academic performance.” In terms of benefits their findings indicated that social media engagement increases the user’s confidence, acquisition of social assistance as well as improvement of media literacy.
In their research Abdulahi et al (2014) examine the impact of Facebook usage in Asian Pacific University scholarship. Suggesting a common reason that is driving scholarship on social media’s impact on academic performance in higher level education institutions, they state that “there is an interest in how Facebook is related to academic performance because of social media platform’s widespread adoption by university students”. Offering their impressions on the subject, they note that “social network sites were only an electronic connection between users, but unfortunately it has become an addiction for students” and interestingly as they might have perceived it, while “a human being can’t do the same thing for long as they tend to be boring, the younger can stay long hours just on Facebook without any complain” (Abdulahi et al 2014). Likewise, majority of scholars, according to Abdulahi et al (2014) prefer to stay on the internet for hours than studying for their exams or doing their assignments. In their view, this is the case because when they are studying or searching their course material online, they get attracted to SNS’s to kill the boredom in their study time, diverting their attention from their work. Their appreciation of this phenomenon raises the question as to why studying on the internet for academic purposes appeals less to users than chatting with their friends.
Less arguably, this situation reflects varying gratifications that different uses offer even within the same communication medium or channel.Furthermore, their findings and analysis show that there is a relationship between students’ academic performance and their use of Social Networking Sites as well as there is also a relationship between students using social network sites and health threat. His study also establishes a relationship between student using Facebook and privacy and security issues. A major weakness of their study, however, was the choice of a quantitative methodology. The choice of a quantitative methodology for a study they described as a “explanatory study in terms of objectives” was deficient in providing required insight.
I essence, their methodology did not provide answer to the “why” and “how” questions inherent in their topic. That notwithstanding, a population sample size of 152 with an even gender ratio as well as a random sampling technique enhance the credibility and objectivity of the study. The varying regional, educational, age and gender composition of the sample population of the study enhances the diversity of the study sample thus enhancing general validity and richness of insight gained.
With the objective of investigating the perceptions of students about the impacts of social media on social behavior Al-Sharqi, Hashim and Kutbi (2015) find out that students of King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia have a high familiarity with social media, with arts students being heavy users of social media. Distinguishing itself from existing literature that is focused on the influence of social media on college students’ social behavior, their work assumes specifically on Saudi Arabia.Al-Sharqi, Hashim and Kutbi (2015) note that new media enhances flexibility in communication and information sharing, an attractive feature which creates space for the youth in engaging in activities which are not possible in face-to-face settings. They also note that, excessive use of social by students is responsible for the ongoing debate as to whether social media impacts the nature and forms of students’ social behavior and academic practices. By using a sample size of 2605 male and female students, the validity of the study’s findings can be warranted. Adding to this strength is the succinct literature reviews which established a comprehensive background from which discussions were made. In in his journal paper, Amedie (2015) provides insight into how social media causes psychological problems.
His study posits that excessive social media usage can be addictive and detrimental to the interpersonal skills and social behavior of users. In analyzing the psychological problems associated with social media, he talks about “Facebook Depression”, a phenomenon he avers has been proposed by many researchers. His work defines ‘Facebook depression’, as a depression that develops when individuals spend excessive amounts of time on social media sites, such as Facebook, and then begin to exhibit classic symptoms of depression. Examining some factors responsible for this problem, he expresses the view that “the intensity of the online world, which requires constant engagement, creates a factor of self-awareness that may trigger depression in some people” (p. 6). He also explains that the term “Facebook Depression” is encompasses all other forms of social media addictions and that “because Facebook is currently the largest and most widely used social medium, the phenomenon of social media caused depression has taken its name” (p. 6).
Consulting a study conducted by Starr and Joanne (2009) which focused on a sample of teenage girls, Amedie (2015) suggest that students who frequently discuss their problems with their online friends are predisposed to experiencing high levels of anxiety. Social media, in Amedie’s view, presents itself as an avenue for repetitive discussions of “girls’ problems” and by that causes users to be obsessed by their problems. He comments that “these problems are usually minor issues such as being conscious of appearance; worrying about peer acceptance or wondering if love is reciprocated”. Similarly, the work of Becker () cited in his work indicates 70% of students who use social media report depressive symptoms while 42% experienced increase in social anxiety.His study offers impression on how the democratic “social environment” has influenced teens’ approaches to seeking advice and how that pose as a negative outcome. That is by confiding in ‘online friends’ for counsel teenagers consequently post their problem to the world through social media, exposing them to both negative and positive feedbacks.Kaimal, Sajja ; Sasangohar (2017), investigate the effects of social media usage on sleep quality using a sample space of ten young people between the ages of 21 – 27, who have no sleep disorders.
Their paper conducted the study on the basis of establishing any negative effects of social media on the quality of sleep by taking into consideration three popular social media networks among the participating group – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. In their paper, Kaimal, Sajja ; Sasangohar (2017) present the results of a controlled study aimed at identifying the impact of social media, one of the most prevalent and trending phenomena in the modern world, on young adults and how it adversely affects their sleep quality (Kaimal et al. 2017). This implies that their study was possibly inspired by a borne prejudice, a perception that social media influences or affects the quality of sleep. Hence, their study was to ascertain the veracity.The use of the three social mediums by the researchers was significant to establishing any trend of variations between the three social media platforms. The findings of study, however, did not seem to back their earlier position. Even some traces were established to show that Facebook, Twitter and Instagram usage have some less significant impact on sleep.
They also point to the fact even though social media usage before bed have some negative effects on sleep quality, it cannot totally be established to be so. While the differences are not significantly different between experimental conditions, a slight positive effect on sleep quality was observed when no social media tool is used before sleep (Kaimal et al. 2017). Also, the paper points out that the result does provide a trend that shows potential relation between usage of social media and sleep quality.Even though the researchers tried their best in coming out with a topic that seems that is worth examining, they were not able to adequately take time to properly investigate the subject of thought very well for proper collection and critical analysis of data collated. Consequently, they admit that the study had several important limitations that if addressed may affect future findings, Kaimal et al (2017). In addition to the limitations of their study was the small sample size which was used.
They concede anyway that due to limited resources and time constraints, their research approach could only recruit ten participants. Future studies with larger sample size, extended over longer time periods may yield more reliable findings (Kaimal et al. 2017).
In all, the study of Kaimal et al. (2017) presents itself as a very important resource for this current study on social media gratifications and outcomes by setting the basis for a research into my subject area as well as providing conditions and cautions for this study to follow in order to achieve better accurate and reliable results.According to the findings of a study conducted by Rackee and Bonds-Rackee (2008), the sought gratifications of students for using Facebook and MySpace were to keep in touch with old friends as well as current ones, to post and view pictures, to make new friends and to locate new friends.
Other less commonly uses and gratification the study found included to learn about events, to post about social functions, to feel connected, to share information about one’s self as well as for dating purposes. Reasons for which some students did not use Facebook or MySpace we given as lack of interest in these sites, preoccupation or busyness, “it is stupid”, lack of internet access and technological illiteracy. Pertaining to the number of college students using these sites and the amount of time per day they spend on these friend-networking sites, the study establish that students generally spend almost 3 hours a day either on their accounts or someone else’s account (Rackee ; Bonds-Rackee 2008).In their study, Park, Kee and Valenzuela (2009) conducted a web survey of 1,715 college students to examine Facebook Groups users’ gratifications and the relationship between users’ gratifications and their political and civic participation offline.
The findings of their research show that users who seek information are more likely to participate in civic activities, a major contribution to understanding the relationship between uses and gratifications of Facebook Groups and civic and political engagement offline (Park et al. 2009). An appreciable number of respondents in their study stated that they have frequently used Facebook groups to organize and support meetings or parties on campus.
In agreement with other research findings (Abdulahi et al. 2014; Rajeev ; Jobilal 2015; Kulandiaraj 2013; Rackee ;Bonds-Rackee 2008), they find out that the need to obtain information about on- and off-campus activities, to socialize with friends, to seek self-status, and to find entertainment were needs and motivations for students’ Facebook usage. The results suggest that underclassmen are motivated to use Facebook Groups with varied purposes and to participate in civic and political activities more frequently and actively than are upperclassmen, who often have little spare time and experience high stress levels because of the urgency and pace of their studies. This result reflects a tension between academic pursuits and social activities in college life.
Neier and Zayer (2015) in their study used a mix of qualitative and quantitative approach to explore what students in higher institutions think about the use of social media for educational activities, most especially, classroom activities. Their study aims at equipping players in the higher educational domain to understanding and employing the right methods when adopting social media as tools for education. The study used both quantitative and qualitative methods to offer a holistic picture of how students perceive the use of social media in education Neier and Zayer (2015). In summary, the findings of their study is essential in helping educators identify several important success factors associated with their employment of social media as pedagogic tools (Neier & Zayer 2015). The study focused on such social media platforms as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Pinterest for the collection and analysis of data to arrive at its findings. The data for the findings which were based on students’ experiences with social media was collated and assessed using a 5-point liker-type scale.
Neier and Zayer (2015) report that students do not report a full consistent understanding of social media but are willing to use all categories of social media. This implies that most people do not necessarily understand the full operations of a particular social media before engaging them, thus impacting their perceptions and consciousness of unwanted outcome. Additionally, the study showed that students are not fascinated about using social media to facilitate learning. Rather, they admit that social media such as Facebook is used for class announcements and the formation of groups for projects as well as for interacting and knowing other opinions and ideas (Neier ; Zayer, 2015). However, the respondents were quick to admit that YouTube, due to its video interactive platform, can facilitate classroom learning and participation, and that it can be considered and used as an extension of the classroom.
This position of student respondents were built on the basis that YouTube provides visual platform of interaction which allows one to be focused and attentive. Likewise, the findings of their study maintain that Facebook provides a medium through which students can gain exposure to ideas and opinions outside a traditional classroom setting. “What we do not know is if those ‘others’ are other classmates in the course in which Facebook is used” (Neier ; Zayer, 2015).Showing how medium-specific features can influence motives and needs that drive social media usage, needs Neier and Zayer (2015) derived in their study that the interactivity of social media is the main aspect that drives the purpose of using social media as a learning platform. Their study, through in-depth interviews, also establishes that students perceive instructors who use social media as sensitive to students’ sentiments and are considered innovative and that students favour the opinion that social media in education is a way to connect with classmates, instructors, and others in their social circles (Neier & Zayer, 2015).As evident in reviewed literature, studies on social media usage and its effects have taken relatively limited perspectives. There is the dominant concentration on students’ usage of social media and how it affects academic life.
However, little attention has been paid to how the nature of students’ usage of social media predict the occurrence of negative outcomes. In general, the discourse has received varying academic responses and has thus resulted in a weak unified effort to investigating the phenomenon (Christakis, 2010). Moreover, an overview of existing literature reflects a problem of consistent methodology and theoretical framework studying social media negative outcomes. Furthermore, it becomes evident that research on the negative outcomes of social media usage among Ghanaian students is relatively scarce. Amidst these issues, this current study, drawing on the uses and gratifications approach, situates itself to explore Facebok depression and addiction as classic examples of negative social media outcomes among Ghanaian tertiary students.2.4 SUMMARY OF CHAPTERThis chapter has reviewed relevant literature related to this study. It has also reviewed the theory that this study is set on.
The next chapter will discuss the methods and data collection procedures used for this study. CHAPTER THREEMETHODOLOGY3.1 IntroductionThe previous chapter paid attention to existing literature and theoretical framework of the study. This chapter focuses on the methodological procedures used in conducting the research. This aims at presenting the research design, the data source, data collection procedure, sampling size and sampling technique and the method of analysis used for this study. Additionally, this chapter pays attention to the ethical canons that would guide the conduct of this research, possible limitations that would be encountered and plans to overcome them.3.
2 Research DesignThis research was conducted using a mixed methodological approach, that is, a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods. According to Creswell (1998), qualitative research is an inquiry process of understanding based on distinct methodological traditions of inquiry that explore a social or human problem in which the researcher builds a complex, holistic picture, analyzes words, reports detailed views of informants, and conducts the study in a natural setting. On the other hand, quantitative research involves the collection of data so that information can be quantified and subjected to statistical treatment in order to support or refute “alternate knowledge claims” (Creswell, 2003, p.153). For this study, the use of qualitative methods is significant to understanding the qualities of entities, that is, social media users, and the motivations underlying their behaviors and activities online.
Likewise, quantitative methods afforded this study the opportunity for statistical measurements of social media effects.Mixed method according to Barbour (2008) helps to reconcile the shortcomings of using one method i.e. quantitative or qualitative approach. Also in the view of Creswell (2007), the purpose of using mixed method research design; qualitative and quantitative research in combination, provide a better understanding of a research problem or issue than either research approach alone. He defines mixed approaches as a methodology for conducting research that involves collecting, analyzing, and integrating quantitative and qualitative research in a single study or a longitudinal program of inquiry. The reason for the choice of a mixed methodological approach for this research is to present a good appreciation of the meaning-making processes of the human subjects (social media users) of this study as well as give adequate scientific grounds for enhancing the generalization of this research’s findings. In other words, such choice of methodology aimed at anticipating deficiencies of either paradigms as well as questions of empiricism and validity relating to the findings of this research.
With respect to qualitative instruments, this research employed structured and unstructured interviews to gain in-depth understanding from selected participants on their motivations for uses of social media as well as their experiences, awareness and concern for unwanted outcomes – addiction and depression – associated with social media usage. The use of questionnaires is to measure such variables as the amount of time spent online and frequency of usage. The combination of interviews and questionnaires is significant to arriving at a comprehensive understanding of social media addiction and depression. 3.3 Research fieldHaving social media as a key variable in this research, Facebook was selected as the field site of study. Such a choice was made with the intention of positioning Facebook as a tangible representation of the “social media variable” of this study.
Albarran (2013) explains that Facebook is the largest social media site in the world, with over 500 million global users and counting. As a significant feature, the size of Facebook users presents a dynamic population engaged in diverse activities which is appropriate for studying behaviors online as well as negative effects (social media addiction and depression). In essence, the size of Facebook users creates the room for demographic discrepancies which is key to assessing behaviours. Moreover, the choice of Facebook, besides its dominant use or popularity Ghana, is also influence by the general magnitude of risk they pose to users.
According to Sophos’s (2010) security threat report, Facebook ranks first (61%) among social networking sites prone to security risks, a contributing reason for its choice for this study. 3.4 Study Population Selected as participants for this research were 50 Faculty of Arts students from the University of Cape Coast who are users of Facebook.
These students were chosen from different programmes of study in the Faculty. Such demographic characteristics of the study population included gender, academic level, age groups between 15 and 30 years. Taking into consideration the time limitation of this study, the choice of Faculty of Arts students as the case for this research is also influenced by the factor of proximity and accessibility of study participants. While acknowledging the advantage of proximity and accessibility of Faculty of Arts students, the choice of the researcher who is a B.A Communication Studies student, however, was made with the intention to avoid personal biases originating from the researcher’s familiarity and association with the study population. As members of the College of Humanities and Legal Studies in the University of Cape Coast, Faculty of Arts comprises different programmes such as B.
A Communication Studies, B.A Arts, B.A Classics and Philosophy, among others. Students from the Faculty read distinct programs and that their academic activities offer little opportunity for interaction and familiarity with the researcher in a way that would affect the objectivity of the study3.5 Sampling TechniqueTo get a representative sample of this population, a convenient sampling method was used. This research selected participants for study based on convenience, accessibility and availability of participants. Factors necessitating for the choice of this method of sampling include time boundaries for the conduct of this research as well as difficulty in acquiring enough population data needed for stratified random sampling which is a much more preferred method of sampling. Nonetheless, the convenience technique employed in this study warrants, fairly, a true representation of the study population.
3.6 Data collection and analysisAs a mixed methodological study, this research’s primary instrument consisted of structured semi-formal interviews (Appendix A) and questionnaire (Appendix B). Interviews with two students who are of Facebook users were used to obtaining accurate data that would reflect the reality of negative and unwanted outcomes associated with social media. Structured questionnaires containing both open-ended and closed-ended questions were distributed to a sampled group of users to ascertain their knowledge and understanding of negative outcomes related to the use of social media and the extent to which they are concerned.
Fifty of the students responded to questionnaire while 2 students were interviewed. The interviews helped the study gain rich information in terms of the “lived experiences” of participants while the questionnaires would help in general statistical measurements of cases of unwanted outcomes. For the analysis of data derived through interviews, the audio recordings would be transcribed and analyzed closely to identify common patterns within the responses of respondents in order to identify similarities and differences in experiences of the study’s participants. The statistical software package for social science (SPSS) was used to analyze questionnaire to measure frequencies, distribution, among others.
3.7 LimitationsThe main limitation of this study lays in its choice of a convenient sampling method which raises the question of objectivity in the study since such choice renders the study prone to the personal biases of the researcher. There was difficulty in meeting an objectively accurate and true representative sample of the population with respect to the choice of the convenience sampling method. Likewise, 50 students fall short of a valid representation of the study population. Additionally, the engagement of the researcher in other academic activities added to the fatigue as well as a convenient time luxury for the conduct of this research. 3.8 Ethical principles The conduct of this research was guided by diligence and integrity.
This research, with respect to dealings with participants and negotiation of information, strictly adhered to the ethics of confidentiality and anonymity. Information obtained from the study’s participants was be used solely for the objective of this research and not for any other purpose. The arching guiding principle of this research was to deal with all participants as humans, being dealt with in fairness.3.9 Chapter SummaryThis chapter espoused the methodology used in carrying out this study.
It also explicitly stated the research design, data collection procedure, study population, the sampling technique and size as well as the data analysis. The next chapter presents and discusses the findings of the research.CHAPTER FOURDISCUSSION AND DATA ANALYSIS OF FINDINGS4.0 IntroductionThe previous chapter discussed the methods and research procedures that the researcher adopted in obtaining and analyzing data for the present study.
It espoused the research design, sources of data, data collection instruments, sampling and sampling size, as well as methods of data analysis. This chapter presents the findings, engages in an analysis and discussion of the results derived from the questionnaire and interviews.For clarity, the term Facebook, as used in the context of this analysis and discussion, is a representation of the social media variable of the current study. Social Media encapsulates a variety of media products and that the selection of Facebook is in a sense representation. Also, the terms “Facebook addiction” and “Facebook depression” are used in the sense of representing negative and or unwanted outcomes associated with social media.
Using a mixed method approach, the study investigated the occurrence of unwanted or negative outcomes associated with the use of social media products. The discussions on the findings of this research are carried out through the lenses of the Uses and Gratifications theory and the theory of self-regulation. About its relevance, the uses and gratifications provides a frame for understanding the motivations, uses and benefits that users derive. As Liu (2015) avers, the central theme of Uses and Gratifications theory is that audience members are actively engaged in their choice and uses of media and that their choices are purposive, goal directed and motivated to satisfy their social and psychological needs.
The application of the self-regulation theory helped to assess the level of control and influence that individuals exert in relation to their social media usage.This discussion assesses the occurrences of negative outcomes by way of looking at how the gratification affordances of Facebook influence the way students use Facebook and thus make them susceptible to such negative outcomes as Facebook addiction and depression. Specifically, this discussion is hinged on three questions laid in the objectives of this study.
These are:1. What are the major sought gratifications of University of Cape Coast Faculty of Arts students for using social media?2. How concurrent are such negative outcomes as Facebook depression and addiction among Faculty of Arts students?3. To what extent are students aware, perceive or concerned about negative outcomes associated with social media?Fifty administered questionnaires were analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) version 24. Two interviews were transcribed and coded by the researcher for the purpose of analysis and discussion.4.1 Overview of questionnaires administration and interviewsTwo students, a male and a female, were selected for the interviews.
Their choice is based on their availability and as well as the need to have a balanced gender composition. These participants are represented by the variables “X” and “Y” respectively. Their responses, transcribed and coded, are referred to in the discussion of the various objectives. The questionnaire was made up of 24 open and close ended questions, categorized into personal information; attitude knowledge and behaviour; usage; and opinion. The questionnaire was first experimented by a group of ten respondents in order to correct all anomalies before they were administered to the sampled population. The administration of the questionnaire paid attention to the composition of the students with in the Faculty of Arts, the study population for this research. The diagram below provides information about respondents and the order of distribution.Fig.
4.1.i Composition of respondents and pattern of distributionGenderAge CategoryProgramme of StudyAcademic LevelMale = 28Female = 2216 -18 = 319 – 21 =1722 – 25 = 26 Religion and Human Values = 5 French = 5 Music = 4Communication Studies = 8Theatre and Film Studies = 5History = 5Classics and Philosophy = 3African Studies 8English = 5Level 100 = 7Level 200 = 10Level 300 = 16Level 400 = 17The distribution was done arbitrarily yet with the aim of achieving a fairly balanced composition of study sample size.4.2.
1 Research Objective 1: The major sought gratifications of students.The first objective of this research was to ascertain the major sought gratifications of Faculty of Arts students who use Facebook. Gratifications, in the context of this analysis, is defined as the benefits and or pleasures which an individual gain from using social media (Facebook). The questionnaire sought to assess four predetermined gratifications – entertainment, relaxation, affection and learning.In the light of the uses and gratifications approach to media effects, Facebook users can be described as “active users” with deliberate choices and uses of media products and content. The gratifications sought and obtained come at the intersection of the very needs that inform an individual’s choice and the resulting gratifications obtained. In exploring this, the questionnaire posed two questions: “What needs does Facebook serve you?” and “What gratifications do you gain from Facebook”.
The former sought to identify the existing needs of individuals that motivate their choice and use of Facebook while the latter ascertained the realized benefits and or pleasures at the end of one’s use of Facebook.The answers provided by the respondents indicated “the need to keep in touch with friends” as the major sought gratifications of students. From the analysis, “the need to keep in touch with friends” had the highest valid value of 84 (representing 43% of responses) while “marketing need” recorded the least valid value of 18(representing 9% of responses). A frequency analysis of the gratifications obtained provided “entertainment” as the most sought gratification with a valid value of 84 (representing 51% of responses) while “learning” had a valid value of 1.
2 (constituting 1% of responses) Figure 4.2.1.i Gratifications Obtained and needs of participants According to figure 4.2.
1.i, entertainment is the dominant sought gratification while “keeping in touch with friends” is a major need that drive students’ usage of social media. Interpretation of the various scores suggest a correlation between the needs of individuals, their choice of media and the realized gratifications. Inferences on the scores suggest that, while students would use Facebook to keep in touch with their friends, their use in this regard produces an entertainment pleasure or benefit. This position draws on the high scores for both the gratifications that respondents identified and the needs that Facebook serves them.
Also, the satisfaction of the student’s need to keep in touch with friends and the entertaining pleasure derived from the satisfaction can be viewed as being embedded in a single activity or series of online activities. The responses of the male interviewee (X) is also in agreement with the responses provided in the questionnaire. Talking about the needs that Facebook serves him, he said: “Facebook is a platform where I get to interact with my friends, it’s a way of reducing boredom. It is one of the reasons why I use Facebook. I get to meet with old friends that I’ve lost and then I get to like pictures, I get to get updated on what’s trending on social media and what’s trending in the world, yeah.”Speaking about the pleasure he gets from using Facebook, he responded, “a lot!”. He continued saying that, he gets to smile, learn and become interactive. A good impression about the nature of gratifications that students gain from Facebook is mirrored in this comment he gave:Ok, for example, I might wake up in the morning where I’m not myself, I’m not really happy, but once I go to online, that is Facebook precisely, when I get to see pictures, I, I’m Ok.
You know, I get a sense of belonging as I get to see beautiful people out there, and then my day doesn’t get ruined. So, in a day when I’m bored and I’m not myself, when I’m under this kind of weather, I switch on my data and I go to Facebook. I get a sense of belonging, a sense of happiness inside me.The responses of female interviewee (Y) is similar to that of X but is tied to a different form of usage. In relation to the question “what needs does Facebook serve you?”, she gave the following response:A whole lot but I’ll mention a few. Like, I learn new things. For instance, I’m a lady, I use, I access Instagram to look up for make-up tutorials, and then Facebook, I search for friends I’ve lost during… I connect with new people, and they have sites for dating and since I want to get to know about other people, sometimes I also go on the dating site – that’s on Facebook.In view of the responses provided by the study participants, this study establishes entertainment, relaxation, affection and learning as the predetermined gratifications of University of Cape Coast Faculty of Arts Students.
In addition, “viewing feeds” and “chatting” online, motivated by the need to build and maintain relationships as well as learning about people and events, appeared to be the dominant forms of usage among students. This is in agreement with the findings of a study conducted by Rackee and Bonds-Rackee (2008) which provides that the sought gratifications of students for using Facebook and MySpace were to keep in touch with old friends as well as current ones, to post and view pictures, to make new friends and to locate new friends. A significant observation is that, different forms of activities may provide the same gratification. For example, updating pictures, viewing feeds all have the potential a single gratification such as entertainment or relaxation. As such there is not a one-to-one relationship between usage/activity and gratifications obtained.
4.2.2 Research Objective 2: The possible occurrence of such negative or unwanted outcomes as Facebook Addiction and DepressionAddiction can be defined as a repetitive habit pattern that increases the risk of disease and/or associated personal and social problems…often experienced subjectively as “loss of control” that continues despite volitional attempts to abstain or moderate use (Marlatt, Baer, Donovan, ; Kivlahan, 1988:224). To measure the possible occurrence of such negative outcomes of social media as Facebook and addiction and depression, the questionnaire posed questions such as: “how many times do you update your status in a day” and “how many times do you check into your account in a day”, among others. These questions sought to measure the frequency of an individual’s usage. Responses to the question “what do you like doing online the most” helped ascertain the interests and nature of activities that respondents engage in while online. In addition, the questionnaire elicited for responses that reflect the attitudes and behaviours of respondents.
The analysis to measure potential occurrence of negative and unwanted outcomes brings into juxtaposition these various aspects. The potential occurrence of Facebook addiction and depression is assessed at the intersection of the variables of frequency of usage, nature of activities and the perceived behaviours or attitudes.Pertaining to how often students updated their status, an average of 22 (40%) students indicated updating their Facebook status 3 to 5 times in a day, while 20% and 16% updated their status 0 to 2 times and more than 5 times respectively.
Respondents who updated their status 0 to 2 times in a day are characterized as “light users”, those who update 2 to 5 times as “normal users” and those who update more than 5 times as “heavy users”. Similarly, pertaining to how many times respondents check in into their accounts, the response “2 – 5” scored a percentage of 58%. Also, these respondents are characterized as “normal users”.A scale with a range of 0 to 10 indexes which measured the user’s own judgment of usage frequency provided that 40% (indicating 4 – 10 points in their responses) of students are normal users. Concerning how long respondents stayed online, response showed a frequency score of 48% (representing an average of 24 students) who stay online for a period of 15 to 45 minutes. An average of 17 students (34%) reported an online presence of a period between 5 to 15 minutes. Only 9 respondents (constituting 18% of responses) indicated spending 45 to 1 hour online per visit.Figure 4.
2.2.i Summary of respondents’ usage frequencyDuration onlineFrequency of UsageStatus update frequencyCheck-in frequency5-15 minutes = 17 (34%)15-45 minutes = 24 (48%)45 minutes to 1 hour = 9 (18%)0-3 times = 18 (36%)4-7 times = 20 (40%)8-10 times = 12 (24%)0-2 times = 20 (40%)3-5 times = 22 (44%)Above 5 times = 8 (16%)0-1 time = 10 (20%)2-5 times = 29 (38%)Above 5 = 11 (22 %)These responses reflect a moderate frequency or rate usage among respondents. Status udate frequency is the number of times of times users post online. Check-in frequency is the number of times that users go online.Furthermore, 57% of respondents to the question “what do you like doing online the most?” answered with the option “viewing feeds”.
Also, 42% of respondents indicated chatting as their most likeable online activity while gave “other” responses. The diagram below depicts their response pattern.Table 4.
2.2.ii Responses to the question: what do you like doing online the most?Options:ChattingViewing feeds (postings)Other ResponsesResponses:Yes = 27 (41 %)Null = 23Yes = 37 (57%)Null = 13Yes = 1Null = 49The frequency of usage as reflected by the responses of participants provides little evidence and reason to suspect the potential occurrence of addiction or depression. The results differ from the “excessive usage” description which Amedie (2015) and Starr & Joanne (2009) opine is an indication of addiction. Moreover, there is an investigation into how individuals treat their online activities and experiences. That is, the value users place on their online experiences. The questionnaire measured the extent to which students are interested in the likes and comments, what it means to them and how that influences their subsequent online behaviour.
In addition, the questionnaire measured the extent of control. Forty-four (44%) of respondents indicated ‘yes’ to the question: “are you interested in the number of likes and comments on your posts?” while 32% and 24% responded “no” and “somehow” respectively. A majority of respondents interpreted “good comments and likes” as a symbol of acceptance of their online personalities and activities.Responses also indicate how users’ online experiences reflect how users judge a good day based on their online experience. In that regard, respondents related good comments and many likes as an indicator of a good day. In response to the question “are good comments and many likes on your posts likely to make you feel good and increase your rate of online activity.
The meaning of responses indicates how derived gratifications influence continued consumption of media. In other words, students continue to use, and are likely to increase their rate of usage based on a previous derived or obtained gratifications. This order of influence between gratifications and usage serves an indicator of how excessive usage, addiction or depression could occur. The link between how “likes and comments” affect the “goodness” of a day highlights, on the periphery, how social media has influence on the individual’s daily life. In that regard, one can be either cheerful or otherwise based on how many likes and comments he or she has online. In the case of interviewee X, he admits to the fact that online experiences (likes and comments) impacts how he judges a good day. To him, online presence and activities is all about “likes” and “comments”.
His comments in this regard are as follows:To see that many people are liking your pictures, their comments are booming, you are like “Yh, I’m there”, I’m becoming everything I wanted to be, I’m loved, I’m respected. Even if I don’t get to see them, at least I see their likes and I see their comments and it’s overwhelmingInterviewee Y’s gave a response to the same question. In her response, she said:It means a lot. Like I said, If I update a picture and people like it, it means I’m being loved.
If I write something and people it a lot, it means whatever I’m communicating, or whatever I’ve communicated is sensible and then maybe I’m trying to reach out to people in a different way, so I feel like I’m doing something significant and not just wasting my time.In the same token, his response to a situation of few likes and bad comments are this:It’ll be like “why, am I not doing something right?”, you know, you post a nice picture where you get to dress extremely well, you go to get a good photography and then you get ten likes and then you are like “ah, how can I get ten likes for this nice picture?”. So, it drains my spirit down. Like I die when I see that on my photos.Such responses reflect the possibility of bad comments affecting one’s mood or happiness. Both Interviewee X and Y mentioned “being loved” in their response to the question about the value of likes and comments.
Essentially, there is a relationship between the value or meaning one attributes to the number of likes and comments and the possibility of having his or her mood affected. If students don’t value likes and comments on Facebook activities, then there will be little possibility for the condition of being addicted or being depressed. Even though 42% of respondents indicated “no” to the question as to whether good comments and many likes affect their day, this proportion becomes relatively less taking into consideration the fact that respondents who indicated “somehow” can possibly slide into the “yes” category.Drawing the discussion into the Self-regulation theory, the user’s sense of control or influence over usage becomes a significant factor in establishing the ground for the potential occurrence of unwanted out comes. In terms of measuring control, the questionnaire asked respondents to indicate their own judgment of self-control over their use of Facebook. A summary of their responses is provided in the diagram below. Table 4.2.2.iii “Yes” responses to the question “to what extent are you in control of your usage of Facebook”Option1 – 3 4 – 67 – 10ChoiceYes = 6 (12%)Yes = 16 (32%)Yes 28 = (56%)Option “1 – 3” indicates a weak self-control, while options “4–6” and “7–10” represent moderate and strong levels of self-control and weakness. The responses of respondents indicate a strong level of self-control in relation to the use of Facebook. These results align with the Uses and Gratifications theory which emphasizes the deliberate choice and use of media. In this regard, the strong level exerted self-control reduces the likelihood for the occurrence of addiction and depression. From the diagram, only six respondents indicated a weak level of self-control or influence over their usage of Facebook and thus likely to be susceptible to addiction and depression. In the case of the interviews, Interviewee Y indicated that she is in control of her Facebook usage, stating that she “knows when to be online and when not to be”. In the case of Interviewee X, he admits going offline would be a tough decision to take.By reconciling the measurements on frequency of usage, nature of online activity and attitude and behaviour, there is little degree of occurrence of Facebook addiction and depression among the study population. Based on the responses and analysis, the average respondent is characterized as a “normal users”, spending an average of 15 to 45 minutes online per day. Besides, a majority of respondents formed a composite percentage of 74% who are characterized as “light and normal users” in terms of frequency. Only 24% of respondents were characterized as “heavy users”. This weakens the grounds for predicting the occurrence or prevalence of Facebook addiction or depression. In comparison to the questionnaire indexes, an online duration of 45 minutes to 1 hour is characterized as “heavy usage”. Contrary to some positions in the literature (Amedie, 2015) that addiction is predicted by excessive usage, the findings of this study found few cases of excessive online presence. Such a conclusion is however weakened by the fact that users’ mood can be affected based on the feedback they get on their online activities. The potential of number of likes to and comment to increasing the rate of subsequent activities further contributes to this weakness. In essence, the nature of online activities and the frequency of usage can be argued to be insufficient determinants to establishing addiction and depression.4.2.3 Research Objective 3: The extent to which students are aware, perceive or concerned about negative outcomes associated with social mediaTo measure the extent to which students are aware, perceive, or are concerned about the negative outcomes associated with social media, the researcher investigated the user’s awareness and judgment of the amount of time he or she spends online. The awareness of individuals about how their usage affects their mood is also adopted to examine their awareness of unwanted experiences. In addition, the responses of participants indicated their general knowledge or awareness of possible negative outcomes associated with the use of Facebook.Table 4.2.3.i Summary of Questions measuring awareness and perceptionQuestions1. Do you think that Facebook takes your time?2. Do you know about any negative outcome associated with Facebook?3. Which of these do you know about?ResponsesYes = 18 (36%)No = 17 (34%)Somehow = 15 (30%)Yes = 14 (28%)No = 36 (72%)Facebook Addiction = 23 (46%)Facebook Depression = 2 (4%)None = 25 (25%)The frequency of “no” responses to the second question gives impression about the fact that students have little knowledge of negative outcomes associated with Facebook. Based on the diagram, 25% of student respondents have appreciable knowledge about Facebook addiction while there is a minimal knowledge (25%) about Facebook depression. However, 36 (72%) of respondents indicated having no knowledge about negative outcomes associated with Facebook. To reconcile this response to the 46% “yes” response to Facebook addiction, it means, students generally are not readily aware of negative outcomes. Respondents could be only have been reminded about the phenomenon through question 3. With regards to the interviews, respondent X refused to describe over usage or uncontrolled usage, as an “addiction”. Even though he admits being online 24/7, that he can’t easily stay away without Facebook, has interest in the number of likes and comments as well as compares his online personality with others and would want to be like them, he posits that he wouldn’t agree to being a victim of Facebook addiction and depression. This is the response he gave when the researcher asked about Facebook addiction and depression:”Me for instance, I wouldn’t say I’m addicted but I like it. I don’t know. I wouldn’t use the word addicted but… there’s no way I… if I’m with you and I’m not holding my phone then it means we are talking about something extremely important. In a way, addiction in a way, kind of is there. But I wouldn’t term it addiction, but it is what it is.”Interview Y also believes in the possibility of students. This was her response to the same question:”Yeah, somehow. Somehow, it’s relative. Some people cannot just get off Facebook, not for once. So, some are there constantly and whatever that they do it’s like they eat, they do whatever there. So, they upload 24/7, everything they are doing, eating sleeping. So, some get really addicted but if you have the control… you have the control and you know when to do this and when not to do that, then I’m not sure you’d always be online.”There is thus a minimal awareness about negative outcomes associated with social media. While participant responses admit to possibilities of over usage, they would hardly agree to the description their usage as addictive and potential cause of depression. In addition, the perception or awareness of possible addiction and depressive consequences are relative to the individual’s manner of usage of Facebook.CHAPTER FIVE SUMMARY, RECOMMENDATIONS AND CONCLUSION5.1 INTRODUCTIONThe previous chapter discussed the findings of the study based data conducted interviews and administered questionnaires. This chapter presents summary of the study, key findings, recommendations and conclusion to the study.5.2 SUMMARY OF STUDYThis study explored the concept of uses and gratifications of social media and the possible negative or unwanted outcomes associated with social it. It focused on frequency and forms of usage to investigate the possible occurrence of such negative outcomes as Facebook addiction and depression. Chapter one presented the introduction to the study. It also outlined the research problem, research objectives and significance of the study, limitation and delimitation of the study. Chapter two reviewed relevant theories and literature to the study. Chapter three highlighted the research methodologies used for the study. It provided the research design, data source, sample size and technique, as well as data collection procedure. Chapter four presented and discussed the findings of the study. Chapter five provided the summary, conclusion and some recommendation for further study. The study set out to explore the forms of usage of social media among University of Cape Faculty of Arts students by adopting a mixed methodological approach comprising interviews and questionnaire. The specific objectives of this study were:1. What are the major sought gratifications of University of Cape Coast Faculty of Arts students for using social media?2. How concurrent are such negative outcomes as Facebook depression and addiction among Faculty of Arts students?3. To what extent are students aware, perceive or concerned about negative outcomes associated with social media?5. 3 KEY FINDINGSThe study revealed that there is minimal likelihood or possibility for the occurrence of such negative outcomes of social media usage such as Facebook addiction and depression. A majority of students are characterized as normal users whose major online activity (viewing feeds) predicted less likelihood of addiction or depression.In addition, the study found that the manifestation of negative outcomes is directly linked to the users’ sought gratifications or needs which in turn influence his or her usage. In other words, needs and gratifications are factors that drive social media usage and thus the very vehicle that predisposes users to negative outcomes. A further argument is the questioning of the “active audience” description of media users within the Uses and gratifications framework. That is, media addictions challenge the prevailing uses and gratifications view of media consumption that emphasizes rational and conscious seeking of media content that gratifies personal needs.Furthermore, the study found that social media addiction is not a short-term effect of media consumption and should be predicted in relation to user’s sense of control or influence over the use of media. It develops over time. The findings are consistent with the position of LaRose, Lin and Eastin (2003) that media addiction lie at one extreme of a continuum of unregulated media behavior that extends from normally impulsive media consumption patterns to extremely problematic behavior that might properly be termed pathological.Moreover, there is a difficulty in setting an “absolute index” in predicting the possible occurrence or prevalence of social media addiction. The study found that, different needs and gratifications produce frequency of media consumption and online presence. Thus, the prediction of addiction should be subjective, in relation to an individual’s need and motive for usage. For example, interviewee “Y” admitted to the possibility of rude comments ruining her day, she indicated she still knows when to go online and when not to go. For interviewee “X”, although he reports being online 24/7, he maintained he is in control of his usage. By the fact that these respondents are in control of their online presence and activity, they cannot be said as being addicted.5.4 RECOMMENDATIONSFurther research could be undertaken to investigate media addiction on varying social media platforms. The choice of Facebook for the current study falls short of being a sufficient representation of social media, owing in part to the fact that, Facebook differs from other social media platforms like Twitter, Whatsapp, and WeChat, among others. There is also the need for future research to properly define the term media addiction. For example, there could be a focus on defining addiction and uncontrolled use as either synonymous or distinct conditions. In addition, further research could consider an extended period for assessment of addictions and that there would be the need to increase the size of sample in order to strengthen the grounds for validity and generalizability of the research finding5.5 CONCLUSIONThis study, focusing on Facebook, explored the possible occurrences of negative outcomes associated with the use of social media among University of Cape Coast Faculty of Arts Students. The findings of the work are drawn on observation and analysis of data derived from student participants. As such, the findings of this study cannot be solely used to predict negative social media outcomes in other jurisdictions. This study, taking into consideration the limited time and size of sample as well as conceptual framework and methodology, should d be considered as a tentative study. 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Information & Management 49(5): 210–17.APPENDIX AINTERVIEW GUIDEMy name is Ekow Mensah Kakra, a level 400 B.A Communication Studies from the University of Cape Coast conducting a research on the occurrences of negative outcomes associated with the use of social media (Facebook). This study is to ascertain the occurrence of social media addiction and depression and the extent of students’ awareness and concern of the phenomenon. I would appreciate it to have you grant me an interview to aid this research. You are assured that your response would be treated with much confidentiality and that your submissions would be significant to the advancement of this study. Thank you.1. Could you tell me about your impression about Facebook?2. How often do you use Facebook?3. For what purposes do you use social media?4. Have you ever felt you are wasting your time online?5. Do you always go online with predetermined purposes?6. To what extent does Facebook affect your mood?7. Do you compare your online personality with others?8. What do likes and comments means to you?9. How do likes and comments influence your usage?10. What is your knowledge of social media addiction and depression?APPENDIX BQUESTIONAIREI am a level 400 B.A Communication Studies from the University of Cape Coast conducting a research on the negative outcomes associated with social media usage among University of Cape Coast Faculty of Arts students. I would appreciate it to have your candid response to this questionnaire to aid this research. Your responses to this form will be kept confidential and would solely be used for the purpose of this research. Please indicate your response by ticking the box against a question or fill in the blank spaces as required.Thank you.SECTION A: PERSONAL DATA1. What is your gender Male Female Other 2. What is your age category? 16 – 18 years 19 – 21 years 22 – 25 years Above 253. What is your academic level? Level 100 Level 200 Level 300 Level 400 4. Please indicate your program of study …………………………………………………SECTION B: USAGE5. Which of these needs does Facebook serve you? Keeping in touch with friends Learning about events To express yourself For marketing Other (please specify)…………………………………………………….6. What gratifications (pleasures or benefits) do you gain from using Facebook? Entertainment Relaxation Affection Learning7. How many times do you update your status in a day? 0 – 2 times 3 – 5 times More than 5 times8. How many times do you check into your account in a day? 0 – 1 2 – 5 Above 59. What do you like doing online the most Chatting Viewing feeds Other: ………………..…………………………………………………………………………………… 10. On a scale of ten, how frequent do you use Facebook? 0 – 3 4 – 7 8 – 1011. Averagely, how long do you often spend online per visit? 5– 15 minutes 15 – 45 minutes 45 – 1 hour hoursSECTION C: OPINION12. Do you thinka that Facebook takes your time Yes No Somehow13. Do you agree that Facebook experiences can affect your mood? Yes No Somehow14. Facebook usage can become addictive Strongly agree Agree Possibly Disagree Strongly disagree15. On a scale of ten, to what extent are you in control of your Facebook usage? 1 – 3 4 – 6 7 – 10SECTION D: ATTITUDE, BEHAVIOUR, KNOWLEDGE16. Are you interested in the number of likes and comments on your posts? Yes No Somehow17. What do likes and comments mean to you Acceptance Popularity Loved Nothing Other ………………………………………………18. How do online experiences make a good day? When I get many likes and good comments When I make new friends When I engage in chats Other:…………………………………………………………………………………19. Are good comments and many likes on your posts likely to make you feel good and increase your frequency of online activity? Yes No Somehow20. Are bad comments and few likes on your posts likely to make you reduce your uploads? Yes No Somehow21. Have you ever wanted to limit your time spent on Facebook? Yes No Somehow22. Do you know about any negative or unwanted outcome associated with Facebook? Yes No If yes please indicate/describe …………………………………………………………..23. Which of these do you know about? Facebook addiction Facebook depression None24. In your own words, how would you define or describe Facebook addiction and Facebook depression?………………………………………………………………………………………………….………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………