Journal of Undergraduate Ethnic Minority Psychology – 2016 Spring; 2 21What social media sites do college studentsuse most?Jasmine Knight-McCord, Dylan Cleary, Nastassjia Grant, AntoinetteHerron, Success Jumbo, Tiffany Lacey, Torri Livingston, Sky Robinson, Renardo Smith,andDr. Richard EmanuelAlabama State UniversityAbstract College students rely on the Internet generally and social media sites specifically to connect with others. This studyseeks to determine what social media sites college students use most. Students (N 363) completed a survey which assessedpersonal use of social media. Surveys were distributed face-to-face and online. Overall, Instagram was the most used socialnetworking site followed by Snapchat and Facebook. The least used social networking sites were Linkedin and Pinterest. Most(76%) use social networking sites 1-10 hours each day and a slightly larger proportion (80%) indicated they use the sites more onthe weekend. Students are most likely to use social networking sites that enable them to post pictures and videos. They are leastlikely to use social networking sites that enable them to develop a professional network or post media content into organizedcategories. Social media sites are increasingly tailored to meet the needs of specific target markets. Understanding thisevolutionary pattern is the key that unlocks which social media platforms college students will continue to use most.Index Terms— social media, use, college, studentTINTRODUCTIONhe Internet is evolving at a rapid pace. According tointernetworldstats.com the number of Internet users hasgrown by more than 30 million from 1995 until 2014. Usersare relying on social media now more than ever. Since thecreation of social media networks, the Internet has becomethe most popular tool for teens and young adults. Socialmedia usage is particularly high among young adults andcollege students because students embrace new mediaquickly (Lenhart, Purcell, Smith, & Zickuhr, 2010). Moststudents use social media to create a personal profile, postwhat they are doing throughout their day, upload pictures,and send messages to their friends and family. Socialmedia are also used to develop a professional network toestablish and strengthen relationships in the business world.Literature ReviewSocial networking sites have become the latestonline communication tool that allows users to create anetwork with a public or private profile and interact withpeople in that network (Boyd & Ellison, 2008). Socialmedia can include blogs, wikis, media (audio, photo, video,text), sharing tools, networking platforms, and virtualworlds (Boyd & Ellison, 2008). Social media sites fulfillmany wants and needs via virtual communication. It is aManuscript received May 2015, resubmitted and accepted October 2015.Student co-authors are (or were at the time the research was conducted) undergraduate students at Alabama State University.Richard Emanuel, Ph. D., is a Professor of Communications at Alabama State University (915 South Jackson Street, Montgomery, [email protected]).36101;
Journal of Undergraduate Ethnic Minority Psychology - 2016 Spring; 2 22convenient method of communication which provides theability to stay connected with friends and family at thediscretion of the users’ own rate and time (Urista, Dong, &Day, 2009). Social media are highly efficient because theyare one of many methods of communication that allowusers to quickly and widely disseminate information.According to Duggan and Brenner (2012), 83% of 18-29year olds disseminate information via social networkingsites.Social media are increasing student engagementoutside of the classroom and they are creating new andinnovative ways to learn (see Ivala & Gachago, 2012;Bynum, 2011). Student engagement represents the time andeffort students invest in their education. DeBell &Chapman (2006) pointed out that adolescent and youngadults are the heaviest users of computers and the Internet.The average college student spends eight hours a day online(Kuh, 2001). However, college students have concernsabout their Internet usage and balancing social life,extracurricular activities, and even part time jobs. Inparticular, “70% reported that they stay online longer thanthey intend. This suggests that the ubiquity of and ease ofaccess to the Internet are not without a potential downside”(Christakis, Moreno, Jelenchick, Myaing, & Zhou, 2011,n.p.). Students view social media as a way to releasepressure from school assignments (Wang, Chen & Liang,2011). However, a balance between social media use andacademic effort is imperative to improve student grades(Brydolf, 2007; Capano, Deris, & Desjardin, 2014; Junco,Helbergert, & Loken, 2011).Social networking sitesFacebook. The most popular social networkingsites to date are Facebook (Rainie, Smith, & Duggan,2013), followed by Twitter (Brenner & Smith, 2013) andLinkedIn (Duggan & Brenner, 2012). Facebook allowsusers to set up a profile and post updates, links, photos,conversations, and the like. Sponcil & Gitimu (2007)reported that 88.5% recognized Facebook as their preferredsocial media site (p. 7). Wang, Chen, and Liang (2011)reported that students spend roughly 100 minutes per dayon Facebook. In 2007, 92% of college students reportedthat they had a Facebook account. By 2008, 99% ofstudents had an account on Facebook (p. 5). Williams andMerten (2008) found that university students are oftenobsessed with their Facebook and Twitter profile. A studyby Pempek, Yermolayeva, and Calvert (2009) showed thatstudents spend an average of 28 minutes a day on Facebook(p. 231). Student researchers from the Whitmore School ofEconomics and Business found that younger students tendto use Facebook more frequently than older students tokeep in touch with friends from high school or from theirhometown (Pempek, Yermolayeva, & Calvert, 2009).Many individuals use social network sites to feel popular,trying to add as many “friends” as possible so they appearto be more admired. Young adults reported an average of358 Facebook friends (Pempek, Yermolayeva, & Calvert,2009, p. 236). Quan-Haase and Young (2010) found that82% of college students reported logging into Facebookseveral times a day.Twitter. Twitter allows users to send out shortmessages or “tweets” about what they are doing or links toresources of interest. People can choose to “follow”selected users’ tweets and they can retweet or repostsomeone’s tweet for others to see. It is an online version oftext-messaging with the capability of sending the samemessage to several thousand people all at once (Ezumah,2013).Linkedin. Linkedin is targeted at professionalsinterested in professional networking. Each user sets up aprofile similar to a resume and then can link to other peoplethat they know. Having been created in 2003, LinkedIn isone of the oldest social networks. However, this particularsite is relatively new to younger generations.Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin are being joinedby a complete new line of competitors in the social mediabusiness. The social network platforms Snapchat,Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube have become the newgateway for the expression for today’s college generation.Snapchat. Snapchat is an application for iPhones,iPads and Android devices. It allows subscribers to send toother subscribers photos that expire in one to ten seconds.There are an estimated 100 million daily active users ofSnapchat, about 70% of whom are women (Smith, 2015,p.1). Wagner (2014) found that more than 77% of collegestudents use Snapchat at least once per day. The mostpopular Snapchat use was for creativity (73%) followed bykeeping in touch (27%). About one-fourth of the collegestudent respondents (23%) reported that Snapchat is easierto use than texting (n.p.).Instagram. Instagram is an application that allowsusers to take pictures and videos and share them on avariety of social networking platforms. It is owned byFacebook.Pinterest. Pinterest is a personalized mediaplatform which allows registered users to “pin” andorganize media content into collections called pinboards.Users can also browse the content of others in their feed.YouTube. Youtube is a video sharing website. Itis owned by Google. Unregistered users can watch videosand registered users can upload videos.Most used social networks
Journal of Undergraduate Ethnic Minority Psychology - 2016 Spring; 2 23An infographic showing a user activity comparisonof popular social networking sites posted online May 2,2012 by Go-Gulf, showed Facebook as the most used socialnetwork with 901 million users (n.p.). This is followed byTwitter (555 million), Google (170 million), Linkedin(150 million), and Pinterest (11.7 million). In terms ofunique monthly visitors, Facebook had more than 16 timesthe number of visitors of the other social networking sitescombined. Pinterest had more unique monthly visitors(104.4 million) than did Linkedin (85.7 million) andGoogle (61 million). The Pew Research Center’s 2014Internet Project survey of 1,445 Internet users found thatBlacks tend to use Facebook most (73%) followed byInstagram (34%), Twitter (25%), Pinterest (21%), andLinkedin (18%) (Krogstad, 2015, n.p.). The AmericanPress Institute’s 2015 online article, “How millennials useand control social media,” found that most (88%) get theirnews from Facebook followed by YouTube (83%) andInstagram (50%). About a third (36%) get their news fromPinterest and Twitter (33%) (para. 7). A 2014 social mediacomparison infographic by Leverage New Age Media (SeeFigure 1) shows that Facebook remains the clear leaderamong social networks with more than one billion activeusers. Linkedin ranks second with 300 million users most(79%) of whom are 35 or older. Twitter and Instagram rankthird and fourth with 241 million and 200 million usersrespectively. Pinterest has one-tenth the number of usersthat Instagram has and most of them (83%) are female(n.p.).Of the social media platforms listed in the figurebelow, only Google was not included in the analysis.Initial discussions with students and early pilot-tests of thesurvey instrument suggested that the students beingsurveyed for this study do not use Google as a socialmedia platform. Google is used primarily by an olderpopulation for business purposes.METHODOLOGYParticipants and ProceduresSurveys (N 363) were distributed toundergraduate students at a public co-educational universityin the southeastern U.S. spring term 2015. Surveys weredistributed on campus (n 236) in classrooms and commonareas, and online via Survey Monkey (n 127). Most of theFigure 1. Social Media Comparison Infographic. LeverageNew Age Media. Retrieved August 31, 2015 diainfographic/respondents (59%) were female and most (78%) were 19-23years old. Freshmen comprised 14% of the sample, 29%were sophomores, 32% juniors, and 25% seniors.Respondents were asked to choose their most preferredsocial media platform. It is reasonable to assume thatmany, if not most, of the respondents use several of thesocial media platforms listed.MaterialsThe survey consisted of eight questions whichasked about students’ personal social media experiences.The first four questions were demographic questions –gender, age, race and year in school. The fifth questionasked them to identify their most used social medianetwork. Response options included Facebook, Twitter,Linkedin, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat.The final two questions asked the average amount of hoursspent on any social media network per day and whether ornot they used social media networks more during theweekend.RESULTSOverall, Instagram was the most used socialnetworking site (29%) followed by Snapchat (24%) andFacebook (23%) (see Table 1). The least used socialnetworking sites were Linkedin and Pinterest (2% each).
Journal of Undergraduate Ethnic Minority Psychology - 2016 Spring; 2 24Table 1. Demographic and Summary InformationGenderMaleFemale5941Age19-237824 22Year in ck69White13Asian5Hispanic6Other7All numbers are percents.Use social media?Yes97No3Most preferred social be7LinkedIn2Pinterest2Hours per day on social media1-5466-10291211-15716-206 20Use social media more on weekends?Yes80No20All numbers are percents.DISCUSSIONStudents are most likely to use social networkingsites that enable them to post pictures and videos. They areleast likely to use social networking sites that enable themto develop a professional network or post media contentinto organized categories. College students use thesenetworks 1-5 hours each day and more on weekends.This information is important because it can beused for future innovation. They have the blueprint fromprevious networking sites. From those they can create whatthey believe would be the next best thing in social media. Itis also beneficial for marketing and advertising companieswho have the ability to use these sites to market theirproducts and services. For example, Snapchat has a newfeature where they have a “Discover” page whereTable 2. Gender DifferencesMost preferred social mediaFemales MalesInstagram 3029Snapchat 2523Facebook 1827Twitter 1610YouTube77LinkedIn22Pinterest22All numbers are percents.Hours per day on social mediaFemales Males1-5 38546-10 362411-15 131116-2058 2083All numbers are percents.Most (76%) use social networking sites 1-10 hours eachday and a slightly larger proportion (80%) indicated theyuse the sites more on the weekend. There is a slight genderdifference in social network use. Instagram and Snapchatare the top two social networking sites for both males andfemales (see Table 2). However, about the same proportionof females use Facebook and Twitter (18% and 16%respectively).Almost three times as many males use Facebook(27%) as they do Twitter (10%). About the sameproportion of males and females spend between one and tenhours per day on social networking