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Sunday, September 28 • 14:36 - 14:50
"What role does SNS use play in gaining benefits from Internet use?"

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Background:  There are three general problems with contemporary empirical evidence on the quality of life changes related to the use of social networking sites (SNS). Despite the broad array of possible effects of SNS use, researchers predominantly concentrate on changes in sociability (social capital, loneliness), psychological well-being (life satisfaction), and political engagement. For example, we can assume that SNS use can help users become more knowledgeable in specific areas, yet this issue is rather neglected. Second, the evidence we have is contradictory, in particular in the cases of loneliness and well-being (cf., Baker & Oswald, 2010; Burke, Kraut, & Marlow, 2011; Ellison, Vitak, Gray, & Lampe, 2014; Kim, LaRose, & Peng, 2009; Lee, Noh, & Koo, 2013; Steinfield, Ellison, & Lampe, 2008; Valenzuela, Park, & Kee, 2009). Third, most studies (and, in fact, all those cited here) are based on either problematic online random samples, samples of university students, or samples of university staff – a fact that is quite surprising. In the proposed paper, the role of SNS use in reported Internet effects is reassessed by (1) focusing on changes in life satisfaction, knowledge, and sociability (data on political engagement are omitted from this paper for the sake of brevity); (2) confronting SNS use with other variables that can explain its effects (see below); and (3) using representative data (see below).

Objective: The primary objective of the paper is to help better understand the role of SNS use in explanations of the effects of Internet use on three dimensions of quality of life (life satisfaction, knowledge, and sociability). The second objective is to test the possible substitutive role of the basic parameters of a respondent's social network (size, heterogeneity, and network capital), other online information and communication activities, innovativeness, digital skills and sociodemographic variables.

Methods: The data in this analysis come from a CAPI survey that was carried out in June 2014 as a part of the project ‘World Internet Project - the Czech Republic II: Analysis of Social and Political Aspects of Unequal Internet Access’. The survey is representative for the Czech population over the age of 15; the sampling procedure was specially designed to include also both socially isolated and very busy respondents, who are usually underrepresented in standard quota or random sampling procedures. The size of the sample is 1316 respondents. The models are tested by employing multiple regression analysis.

Results:  The author expects the hypotheses about the independent explanatory role of SNS use in knowledge and sociability to be confirmed and the direct link between SNS use and life satisfaction in the case of heavy users to be disproved. Moreover, part of the expected SNS effect should be explained by offline sociability, innovativeness and, in the case of knowledge, by specific information skills.

Conclusions: The paper shows new evidence based on representative data, taking into consideration previously neglected relations among SNS use, innovativeness, respondent's social network, and self-reported digital skills.

Baker, L. R., & Oswald, D. L. (2010). Shyness and online social networking services. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 27(7), 873–889.

Burke, M., Kraut, R., & Marlow, C. (2011). Social capital on Facebook: Differentiating uses and users. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 571–580). ACM. Retrieved from http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1979023

Ellison, N. B., Vitak, J., Gray, R., & Lampe, C. (2014). Cultivating Social Resources on Social Network Sites: Facebook Relationship Maintenance Behaviors and Their Role in Social Capital Processes. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, n/a–n/a. doi:10.1111/jcc4.12078

Kim, J., LaRose, R., & Peng, W. (2009). Loneliness as the cause and the effect of problematic Internet use: The relationship between Internet use and psychological well-being. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 12(4), 451–455.

Lee, K.-T., Noh, M.-J., & Koo, D.-M. (2013). Lonely People Are No Longer Lonely on Social Networking Sites: The Mediating Role of Self-Disclosure and Social Support. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 16(6), 413–418. doi:10.1089/cyber.2012.0553

Steinfield, C., Ellison, N. B., & Lampe, C. (2008). Social capital, self-esteem, and use of online social network sites: A longitudinal analysis. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 29(6), 434–445. doi:10.1016/j.appdev.2008.07.002

Valenzuela, S., Park, N., & Kee, K. F. (2009). Is There Social Capital in a Social Network Site?: Facebook Use and College Students’ Life Satisfaction, Trust, and Participation. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 14(4), 875–901. doi:10.1111/j.1083-6101.2009.01474.x


Petr Lupac

Charles University in Prague, Faculty of Arts, Czech Republic

Sunday September 28, 2014 14:36 - 14:50
TRS 1-147 Ted Rogers School of Management

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