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27 March 2017

What Drives Young People’s Intensity of Facebook Use?

Keywords: media, survey, teens, young adults, India & Southern Asia, computer, internet, political participation, social media,

Nowadays, there is increasing attention for the positive sides of social media for youth’s well-being. Instead of only focusing on the amount of hours spent with social media, researchers now take a broader approach by also taking into account the engagement and emotional connectedness experienced by social media users (also referred to as the intensity of social media use). A study in Computers in Human Behavior investigates whether the intensity of teens’ and young adults’ Facebook use is influenced by psychological well-being.

Take aways

  • The Intensity of Facebook Use (IFU), which is the degree to which Facebook users feel emotionally engaged and connected towards Facebook, is higher for teenagers and young adults who are more engaged in civic and political participation on Facebook.
  • The IFU is also higher for teens and young adults who engage with different Facebook-based activities such as posting, messaging or commenting (online sociability).
  • For teenagers, the IFU is higher for those who often use Facebook as a tool to maintain close relationships and acquaintances (bonding and bridging of social capital).  

Study information

  • The question?

    Do psychosocial attributes of well-being drive intensive Facebook use?

  • Who?

    Study 1: 942 13 to 18 year old Facebook users from northwestern India.

    Study 2: Group A: 373 13 to 17 year old Facebook users from northwestern India.
    Group B: 107 14 to 18 years old Facebook users from southern India.
    Group C: 105 19 to 21 year old university-attending young-adult Facebook users from a large university in northwestern India.

  • Where?


  • How?

    All across India, different types of schools were approached within two different time frames. Study 1 was administered in January 2014 and study 2 one year later, in January 2015. Interested students were asked to fill out a pen-and-paper survey in English, including questions about their Intensity of Facebook Use (IFU), their civic and political participation, their satisfaction with life, their bonding (i.e., maintaining close relationships via Facebook) and bridging (i.e., maintaining loose connections via Facebook) of social capital and the online sociability (i.e., individual's engagement with different Facebook-based activities) of Facebook. 

Facts and findings

  • For teenagers and young adults:
    • the more they engaged in civic and political participation on Facebook, the higher they scored on Intensity of Facebook Use (IFU).
    • the more they individually engaged with different Facebook-based activities (online sociability), the higher they scored on IFU.
  • Only for teenagers:
    • the more they used Facebook for bonding (using Facebook as a tool to maintain close relationships) and bridging (using Facebook as a tool to maintain acquaintances with less close friends), the higher they scored on IFU.
  • Life satisfaction was not related to IFU.
  • Findings were true for teenagers and young adults with different social economic backgrounds
  • Critical Notes: 
    • The study only included Indian Facebook users, which means that the findings cannot be generalized to world-wide Facebook users. 
    • The researchers note that Groups B and C in the second study were too small to be representative for the whole population.