What uses & gratifications do UOW students gain through the use of Facebook?
Social media has become an integral factor within today’s advancing world. It is a collective of online communications channels dedicated to community-based input, interaction and collaboration. The online realm has allowed people and content to converge together creating a deeper meaning for audiences wherever they may originate. This idea of social media has sparked much interest for me, as I am curious to know what responders are looking for when wired to the site whereby fulfilments come into play.
Launched in February of 2004, Facebook has become not only the most used and popular platform in regards of social-networking, but also is ranked at number one for the most trafficked site worldwide whereby taking first place in the top ‘Internet & Telecom’ category (SimilarWeb, 2016). With this information I found it critical to apply this to those within the University of Wollongong especially towards students. Although Facebook has led and dominated the world in its ability to mesh collectives of all sorts together, I feel not much exploration has been presented to the public since it’s debut as to why students use Facebook or how it fulfills needs, wants and demands. The purpose of my research is to ‘understand the uses and gratifications that UOW students gain through the full use of Facebook’, using a grounded theory approach and a uses and gratifications framework.
Facebook can be defined through its mission “to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them” (Facebook, 2016).
The Uses and Gratification Theory is an approach to understanding how and why different people use the same media messages for different purposes to satisfy their psychological and social needs and achieve their goals (Blumler and Katz, 1974). According to uses and gratifications theory, audiences differ in the gratifications they seek from the mass media, which I am aiming to expose throughout an environment of emerging adults. What needs and gratifications are people looking for within Facebook? Can the needs be grouped into separate and diverse categories? Upon looking into ways different people choose to experience Facebook the following elements presented themselves: diversion (escape from problems; emotional release), personal relationship (social utility of information in conversation; substitute of the media for companionship), personal identity (value reinforcement, self-understanding), and surveillance (McQuail, Blumler, and Brown, 1972).
New media like the Internet possess attributes that are not widely concerned within traditional media such as interactivity, demassification. (Ruggerio, 2000). As Facebook can be identified as a fairly new form of media, I can use these features in forming a greater understanding of what Facebook offers to its users with the methodology I am prepared to begin. In order to collect the relevant information, I intend to assemble my findings by using already published results and readings and conducting my own research by using the process of interviews, firstly in a focus group format. Using a more qualitative approach will help allow more insight into the perceptions, ideas and thoughts of the individual members. Making sure a clear baseline is established I have brainstormed questions I would like to ask the subjects such as:
- How old were you when you joined Facebook?
- How often do you check your Facebook account/news feed?
- Are you happy with the content that is evident on your Facebook feed?
- What do you look for every time you enter Facebook?
- Has university life changed the way you use Facebook?
Questions like so will assist me in my recordings and understanding the routines, thoughts and actions of UOW students regarding their Facebook activity. I will compare and contrast results to each other and that of other research articles that revolve around the same notions and ideas.
I find that social media, especially the likes of Facebook have become one of the most powerful tools in the way the world functions, I am curious as to how it could affect the way we as a young generation gauge the functionality of what we do take for granted, what we take from it and what we need, want and demand from the application. “Media selection is initiated by the individual based on his or her expectations for media use which are often produced from the predispositions, social interactions, and environmental factors of the individual”. (Urista, Dong, Day, 2008)
- Blumler J, G, Katz E, (1974), ‘The Uses Of Mass Communications: Current Perspectives of Gratification Research.’, SAGE, Beverly Hills, CA. date accessed: 25/03/16
- Day K.D, Dong Q, Urista M.A 2008, Explaining Why Young Adults Use Myspace and Facebook Through Uses and Gratifications Theory, ‘Human Communication”, Vol.12, No.2, pp. 215-299, date accessed: 25/03/16
McQuail, D., Blumler, J. G., & Brown, J.R. (1972). The television audience:Revised perspective. In D. McQuail (Ed.),Sociology of mass communications(pp. 135-165). Harmondsworth, Eng.: Penguin. date accessed: 25/03/16
- Ruggerio, T.E 2000, ‘Uses and gratification theory in the 21st century’, ‘Mass Communication & Society’, Vol.3, No.1, pp. 3-37, date accessed: 25/03/16