On SAGE Insight: When is social media use social interaction?

Article title: When is social media use social interaction? Defining mediated social interaction

From New media & society


This investigation
explores the question, when is social media use social interaction? Although the term social media predates the advent of Web 2.0, it is typically associated with recent brand-named platforms, like Facebook and Twitter. From the telegram to the smart phone, the social processes of meaning-making and relationship maintenance are central functions of media in general. The study of social interaction has a long and rich history in sociology, social psychology, and communication. The results of three studies indicated that social media use was rarely considered social interaction. Social interactions through social media were usually talk-focused, one-on-one exchanges with closer relational partners, and rarely undifferentiated, broadcasted, or passively consumed information shared with acquaintances. When social interactions took place through social media, participants were typically chatting or posting on each other’s walls. Although chatting occupies a small portion of time on social media it is the strongest predictor of feelings of relatedness and the perception that a social interaction had taken place.

Abstract

This investigation explores the question, when is social media use social interaction? The results of three studies indicated that social media use was rarely considered social interaction. After using social media for 5 or 10 minutes, Study 1 (N = 116) demonstrated that infrequent, directed social media behavior (e.g. chatting, commenting) predicted having a social interaction and feeling related. Study 2 (N = 197) used event sampling to examine participants’ social interactions with friends (n = 2388) and found 96.5% of social interactions did not take place on social media. Study 3 (N = 54) used experience sampling to record participants’ experiences over 5 days (n = 1332). Social media use and social interaction occasionally co-occurred, but only 2% of social interactions took place through social media. Social interactions through social media were usually talk-focused, one-on-one exchanges with closer relational partners, and rarely undifferentiated, broadcasted, or passively consumed information shared with acquaintances.

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Article details
When is social media use social interaction? Defining mediated social interaction
New media & society
DOI: 10.1177/1461444816660782

 

     
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