Honors College
 

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Major

Media Studies, Journalism

Advisor(s)

Kathleen Ellis, Michael Socolow

Committee Members

Amelia Couture Bue, Jordan LaBouff, Clinton Spaulding

Graduation Year

May 2021

Publication Date

Spring 5-2021

Abstract

Foundational theories of social psychology were written before the existence of social media. As evolving technology has created an environment where users maintain constant social contact, there exists a need for research concerning how human social needs manifest in an online environment, and even moreso for how constant interconnectedness affects people. Previous research indicates a positive correlation between experienced ostracism and social media addiction. However, social media usage tends to be high among users who feel connected, as well as users who feel disconnected, thus indicating that the link between social media and social disconnection may be a ‘chicken-and-the-egg’ situation. This mixed-methods quantitative and qualitative study seeks to identify correlation between ostracism and disordered social media usage, and to illuminate new trends for further exploration. The COVID-19 pandemic presents a unique circumstance wherein people have been restricted from public spaces and gatherings for over a year, therefore relying on social media more than ever for interpersonal fulfillment. Quantitative deductive data were collected with a survey utilizing the Social Media Usage Disorder Scale (SMDS) in terms of both before and during the pandemic, and the Ostracism Experience Scale for Adolescents (OES-A). The survey sought to identify whether there was a correlation between experienced ostracism and disordered social media usage among undergraduate students, and whether participants had experienced a change in disordered social media usage before versus during the pandemic. Qualitative, inductive interviews were conducted with ten volunteers from the survey, and analyzed in terms of an exploratory case study examining each individual’s relationship with social media, reasons for usage, and their perception of its effects. Common occurrences between interviews are sorted in the qualitative discussion. The interviews aimed to illuminate new links between lifestyle factors or other predispositions that might affect an individual’s social media usage in a number of ways including: type of platform used, effects of certain platforms, and the individual’s feelings toward their own usage. This study provides implications for further research on the usage of social media and its effects.

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