1.2 Research Gap
Social networks have changed the way that people interact with one another. I propose to investigate how offline interactions are influenced by social networks, notably Facebook, using the intensity of Facebook usage as an indicator of online interaction. The affects on intensity of use will be looked at from a psychological, sociological, and technological perspective.
1.3 Literature Review
Social networks have had a large impact on the manner in which society interacts. Communication and interaction between people has been hugely enhanced as a result of social networking sites over the internet(Breslin and Decker 2007). Offline interactions may be being affected resulting from the increase in popularity of social networking sites, such as Facebook; consequently, the intensity of social networking site usage is of interest. This research report will consider technology acceptance as well as continuance usage intention, continued use of previously adopted technology (Wang and Chiang 2009), in determining the extent of Facebook usage. The influence of psychological, sociological, and technological factors will be taken into account in the determining of usage intensity.
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Social computing is taking over from the traditional sources of social interactions (Vannoy and Palvia 2009). It is defined by Vannoy and Palvia (2009) as the "intragroup social and business interactions... where such actions are made possible through the mediation of information technologies". Social networks are "designed to help us work together over common activities or interests"(Breslin and Decker 2007), however connections are becoming more and more worthless as 'friends' are not necessarily endorsed by common activities and interests (Breslin and Decker 2007). These sites are becoming tangled up in the real world resulting is social networks being used for real life interactions (Breslin and Decker 2007).
The Social Network that this research will be using is Facebook, as it is one of the most popular social networking sites at present (ebizmba.com 2011). Facebook started operating in February 2004 (Facebook.com 2011) and it has grown exponentially, that at present it has 500 million users who have been active on Facebook in the last 30 days.
Certain models will be utilised to determine the intensity of Facebook use. The first is the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM), which looks at various factors that affect technology adoption and acceptance (Davis 1989). The second model is the Information System Continuance (ISC) model, which describes various factors that affect the users' usage continuance after adoption (Hsieh and Wang 2007)
The Technology Acceptance Model measures technology acceptance and adoption using perceived ease of use and perceived usefulness as its key factors (Hsieh and Wang 2007). Technology acceptance can either be internalised by users, otherwise the technology will not be accepted but rather complied with (Schepers and Wetzels 2007). Vannoy and Palvia(2009) evaluated technology adoption through its embracement by, and embedment into, society. Hsieh and Wang (2007) found that the factors that have an influence on technology adoption are similar to those influencing continued usage. Subsequently the Technology Acceptance Model can measure the technological factors that may affect the extent of use of Facebook. An extension of the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM2) was developed by Venkatesh and Davis(2000) which explains continued usage intentions in terms of social influence and perceived usefulness
The Technology Acceptance Model(Davis 1989) resulted from the theory of reasoned action, as the Theory of Reasoned Action seeks to find out how attitude as well as social influence affect users behavioural intentions(Schepers and Wetzels 2007). A person's behaviour established by technology usage intentions of users are influenced by attitudes and subjective norms (Jahng, Jain et al. 2007)
The Information System Continuance (ISC) model explains user behaviour after initial adoption. This model will be supported by the Technology Acceptance Model; in terms of understanding continued usage intentions of Facebook Users. Continued usage intentions are ascertained by the users' satisfaction or the perceived enjoyment that they obtain from an earlier experience of social networks (Hsieh and Wang 2007). Other factors used in determining continued usage intentions are perceived usefulness (TAM) as well as confirmations of expectations held by the user.
The technological factors that may influence a users intensity of use are drawn from the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM). TAM looks from a customer perspective at the meaning of the technologies qualities in terms of perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use (Strader, Ramaswami et al. 2007) Perceived usefulness as defined by Davis(1989) is the "degree to which a person believes that using a particular system would enhance his job performance". Perceived ease of use "the degree to which a person believes that using a particular system would be free from effort" (Davis 1989). These factors are important to consider when looking at intensity of use of a social networking site.
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The sociological factors reflected on, are social influence and online interactions, in terms of their impact upon intensity of use in social networking sites.
Social structures are examined with regards to technological embedment into society (Sykes, Venkatesh et al. 2009). Social Influences (subjective norms) are defined by Vannoy and Palvia (2009)as the degree that others think that a person should use a technology, thus society has an influence on technology. Several relationships have been found with regard to subjective norms. Firstly that they have an effect on user attitudes (Schepers and Wetzels 2007), as well as intentions to use(Van Slyke, Ilie et al. 2007) and cultures may affect them (Posey, Lowry et al. 2010).Kleinberg (2008) indicated that as number of social networking friends a user has increases so does the likelihood of others adopting, using and continuing to use a social network. Consequently, social influence also has an impact on online interactions, the second factor considered.
Wang and Chiang (2009) found that social interactions do have an impact on users continuance usage intentions. The richness of these interactions also had an impact (Jahng, Jain et al. 2007), this occurred though attitudes and intentions to use. Attitudes (Dickinger, Arami et al. 2008) are feelings associated with performance.
The psychological factors that shall be used are perceived enjoyment/satisfaction and anticipated reciprocal relationships resulting from the use of Facebook. These factors are expected to result in increased intensity of use.
Cognitive adoption (Deng, Turner et al. 2010) is characterised by total user engagement, thus the technology can be considered be embedded into society and the user can be considered to be satisfied. Satisfaction occurs when users' expectations are exceeded and result in "pleasurable fulfilment" (Deng, Turner et al. 2010). Satisfaction is considered a significant foundation resulting in continued usage of technologies (Deng, Turner et al. 2010)..
Subjective norms and reciprocity are the primary drivers of self-disclosure. They are described by Posey, Lowery et al. (2010) as the information that people reveal voluntarily concerning themselves. Self-disclosure has an important role in the creation and maintenance of relationships (Posey, Lowry et al. 2010), and the quality of which is revealed by reciprocity of the relationship, indicating its worth (Posey, Lowry et al. 2010) and by social capital theory (Wang and Chiang 2009). Social exchange theory and social penetration theories are helpful in explaining the cognitive processes that occur before and during interpersonal communications (Posey, Lowry et al. 2010)
The structure of society will need to adapt as the use of Social networking sites become more embedded into society (Kleinberg 2008). Offline social interactions may decrease as the usage of these sites intensifies. As a result, research is needed to find out which psychological, sociological, and technological factors are producing an increase in the extent of Facebook usage.
Question 2: Comprehensive Research Problem
The research problem for this study is, the affect of psychological, technological and sociological factors on the intensity of social networking site usage, such as Facebook on students, and in turn the influence that the intensity of usage has on offline social interactions. Intensity of usage is thought to encompass the frequency of use as well as how embedded the action is into society. A social network is "intragroup social and business interactions... where such actions are made possible through the mediation of information technologies"(Vannoy and Palvia 2009). The psychological factors of interest are; perceived enjoyment (Deng, Turner et al. 2010), and anticipated reciprocal relationships (Wang and Chiang 2009; Posey, Lowry et al. 2010). The technological factors are; perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use (Davis 1989; Venkatesh and Davis 2000). Lastly the sociological factors of importance are social influence(Schepers and Wetzels 2007; Sykes, Venkatesh et al. 2009; Vannoy and Palvia 2009), otherwise known as subjective norms, and online interactions(Jahng, Jain et al. 2007; Dickinger, Arami et al. 2008; Wang and Chiang 2009). The sample to be studied are South African Students attending the University of the Witwatersrand. The selected factors under consideration are believed to be of importance for this sample, as students find these factors appealing. The objectives of this study are; to analyse the impact of perceived enjoyment and anticipated reciprocal relationships of students in a social networking setting, on the intensity of Facebook Use. The second objective is to explore the effects of social influence and online interaction of students on the extent of Facebook usage, and lastly to assess how perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use affect intentions to use Facebook by students.
Question 3: Leading Academic Researchers in this Field
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The leading academic researchers in the field of technology adoption and behavioural intention to use Social Networks, are Davis (1989) for the Technology Acceptance Model, and Venkatesh and Davis (2000) for the extension of Technology Acceptance Model, to include social influence as an important factor into Technology adoption and acceptance. These models are very important to this study as they are trying to ascertain what influences technology adoption and use, which is what this study is trying to accomplish. The other leading academics are M. Fishbein, and I. Ajzen for their work done on the Theory of Reasoned Action as well as also looking into attitudes, intentions and behaviours of usage. R Agarwal is also an influential academic in the areas of sociology, such as cognitive absorption as well as user beliefs.
Question 4: Academic Theories Used
The Technology Acceptance Model (Davis 1989) takes into account two factors: perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use and their affect on a users intentions to accept and use the technology. Perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use were both defined by Davis(1989), perceived usefulness is the "degree to which a person believes that using a particular system would enhance his job performance" and perceived ease of use "the degree to which a person believes that using a particular system would be free from effort". It has been found by a large number of researchers that perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use do have an impact on users' intentions to use a technology and attitude toward the technology (Schepers and Wetzels 2007). Perceived ease of use also has a direct impact on the positive perceptions of usefulness (Hsieh and Wang 2007).
This model was extended by Venkatesh and Davis (2000) to include social influence and cognitive processes into the Technology Acceptance Model. The inclusion of these factors were supported, users' intentions to use a technology were impacted by subjective norms and cognitive processes of the individual. The theory of reasoned action is where the technology acceptance model came from (Schepers and Wetzels 2007), the theory of reasoned action indicated that attitudes and social influences do have an influence over a users intention to make use of a technology.
Other models that are important in the study look at the sociological aspect of technology adoption and use. The Social exchange theory (Posey, Lowry et al. 2010), social penetration theory (Posey, Lowry et al. 2010) and the social capital theory (Wang and Chiang 2009)all have important implications for the current research.
The social exchange theory is used to explain self-disclosure by individuals and the prior thought process that individuals must engage in, in order to reveal that personal information (Posey, Lowry et al. 2010). Self-disclosure is the personal information that individuals release about themselves to other, and it has an important role in the development of relationships (Posey, Lowry et al. 2010). The focal point that social exchange theory surrounds relationships and whether or not an individual should engage in it, so as to create and maintain those relationships (Posey, Lowry et al. 2010).
Social Penetration Theory is an extension of social exchange theory as it pertains only to the actual disclosures of individuals (Posey, Lowry et al. 2010) and the communications that may or may not occur. Social penetration defined, as the increasing disclosures that individuals make will result in the disclosures being more intimate (Posey, Lowry et al. 2010), it is concerned with "relational closeness".
Social Capital theory assesses the outcomes of social interactions - relationship quality (Wang and Chiang 2009). Social capital theory consists of structural, cognitive, and relational dimensions (Wang and Chiang 2009). These dimensions are important for this study as peoples need for social capital may be the reason why social networks are taking over from the traditional social interaction sources (Vannoy and Palvia 2009).
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The Benefits of Facebook "Friends:" Social Capital and College Students' Use of Online Social Network Sites
Nicole B. Ellison, Charles Steinfield, Cliff Lampe
Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Volume 12, Issue 4, pages 1143-1168, July 2007
Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship
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Social capital, self-esteem, and use of online social network sites: A longitudinal analysis
Charles Steinfield, a, , Nicole B. Ellisona and Cliff Lampe
Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, Volume 29, Issue 6, November-December 2008, Pages 434-445, Social Networking on the Internet - Developmental Implications
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Johan breslin, Stefan decker
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