Facebook can help college students with lower confidence build relationships

Accounting Facebook's effect on relationships versus the impact of more traditional media.


Discoveries about Facebook’s impact on relationships are mixed, potentially because of the absence of models that recognize differences across clients, kinds of their companions, and utilization of contending media. To address this, scientists at the Binghamton University have recently proposed and tested how Facebook and traditional media influence bridging and bonding social capital in two different networks: core network of high school friends and network of first-semester college friends.

Facebook was expected to compensate for traditional media in the first network while social self-efficacy was expected to interact with media use in the latter. Results provide reasonable support for our models.

Providing reasonable support to the models, scientists found that Facebook can help first-semester college students maintain relationships with high school friends and assist them in creating new friendships.

With regards to making new companions, those with higher confidence in their social abilities have less to pick up from relying on Facebook, while individuals with lower confidence in their social skills have more to gain from a dependence on the social media platform.

Surinder Kahai, associate professor of management information systems at Binghamton University’s School of Management said, “Transitioning from high school to college can be stressful for many students. To help them adjust to life in college, it is critical for them to maintain connections with pre-college friends and to form new relationships.”

For the study, scientists focused on first-semester understudies by reviewing undergraduate understudies, for the most part, sophomores, about their experiences with different channels used to keep up and develop connections.

Representing Facebook’s impact on relationships versus the effect of more traditional media (face to face interaction, telephone calls, and so on.), specialists likewise fused how every understudy’s social self-efficacy influenced the utilization of both Facebook and conventional media to build and maintain relationships.

Surinder Kahai, associate professor of management information systems at Binghamton University’s School of Management said, “You’ve known your high school friends for a long time. You’re not shy in front of them and you can act naturally. But when it comes to making new friends in college, your ability to be social and open yourself up to new people will matter. If you have low self-efficacy, you may need to rely more on social media to make up for less face-to-face interaction.”

“The findings are relevant to university officials and counselors helping new students adjust to college life. New college students often stress about trying to maintain their high school friendships while struggling to develop new ones. These findings can help counselors advise students on how to balance the use of social media and traditional media to enhance their new and older friendships.”

Kahai believes that any long-distance relationship can be maintained with the right use of media, which served as some of his motivation to conduct this study.

“If there is an intent to continue the relationship, you can make it happen. Whether you use phone calls, snail mail or Facebook, if you want to maintain a relationship, you can,” he said.

“And with the growing presence of social media in the lives of college students, Kahai recommends to stop focusing on the “is social media good or bad?” debate.

“It’s here, it’s not going away. It’s a part of society now. The results of our study suggest that instead of asking whether or not Facebook builds relationships and social capital, we should be focusing on finding the conditions in which it does.

In terms of how “best” to use Facebook to maintain and build new relationships, some of the findings include:

  • Students with low self-efficacy have more to gain from prioritizing Facebook use over traditional media when making new college friends.
  • Students with high self-efficacy have more to gain from prioritizing traditional media over Facebook when making new college friends.
  • Facebook works best when supplementing traditional media when it comes to making new college friends.
  • Facebook can compensate for the lower use of traditional media to maintain relationships with close friends from high school.

The study was published in the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies.


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