Facebook and Well-Being
Authors:Julia Flores, Kayla Gooch, Adriel Henriksen
Mentor:Andrea Hopmeyer-Gorman, Professor of Psychology, Occidental College
Relationships with already established friends as well as newly developed friendships are an important aspect of students’ adjustment to college life. With the proliferation of social media outlets, college students’ peer interactions occur both offline and online. Facebook has become an important mechanism through which students stay in contact with off-campus and on-campus friends. The present study was designed to examine how online Facebook interactions impact students’ socio-emotional adjustment at a four-year liberal arts college. In a college that requires students to live on campus, assimilation to campus life would presumably result in better outcomes than relying on friendships from before college. Therefore, the present study hypothesized that students who engaged primarily with other University-based friends on Facebook would feel more connected to campus and show better psychological outcomes than those who engaged primarily with off-campus friends. Participants (n = 256) completed an online survey assessing their campus connectedness, self-esteem and loneliness. They also indicated their Facebook activities by categorizing a sample of Facebook friends as on- or off-campus and indicating whether their recent notifications and private messages were from on- or off-campus friends. The results showed that students interact slightly more with other on-campus students and talk to other on-campus students in the public domain (notifications) more than the private domain (private inbox messages). Furthermore, interacting with University-based friends was positively correlated with campus connectedness (r(256) = .38, p<0.01) and negatively correlated with loneliness (r(256) = -.28, p<0.01). Students who reported interacting primarily with University-based peers on Facebook rather than with non-University friends showed stronger connection to campus and better psycho-emotional functioning than other students. The implications of these findings for campus life initiatives will be discussed.