Academic journal article Journal of International Technology and Information Management

Facebook Use among African American and Hispanic Students: An Exploratory Investigation of Perceived Academic Impact

Academic journal article Journal of International Technology and Information Management

Facebook Use among African American and Hispanic Students: An Exploratory Investigation of Perceived Academic Impact

Article excerpt


Facebook is one of the world's leading social networking sites. It is pervasive in students' lives and can impact their academic careers in a variety of ways. However, little research exists evaluating the use of Facebook in minority academic settings. An early step in this direction is to gain an understanding of how different student demographic groups use Facebook. An interest in further assessment of Facebook's role in diverse segments of academia motivates the collection and analysis of Facebook-related data from minority serving institutions such as Historically Black Colleges or Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs). This study presents the results of a comparative examination of African American students at an HBCU and Hispanic students at an HSI regarding their perceptions of Facebook use for academics. The findings reveal significant differences between the two groups. When compared to African American students, the Hispanic students use Facebook more for academics even though they perceive it to have a negative impact on academics. This perceived negative impact of Facebook is not directly translated into actual differences in self-reported GPA.

Keywords: Facebook, social networks, education, educational technology, questionnaire


Social networking sites as defined by Boyd and Ellison (2008) are web based services that allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system. Social networking continues to increase in popularity, with about two-thirds of all internet users belonging to at least one social networking site (Duggan & Brenner, 2013).

Users of social networking sites have exhibited great ingenuity and adaptability in their applications of social media. The networking sites have been used to manage relationships (find people, keep in touch with friends, and form new friendships); organize, communicate and share information (posts, pictures, other resources); engage in self-presentation; or simply for entertainment, playing games and having fun. Businesses use social media to connect and communicate with customers, both current and potential. Social media is also being used extensively in political campaigns.

Since its founding in 2004, Facebook has grown to become one of world's leading social networking sites, exceeding 1 billion active monthly users by 2012 (Facebook, 2015). Recent estimates indicate that Facebook now has more than 1.3 billion active monthly users, with about 48% logging in on any given day. An average user spends about 18 minutes per Facebook visit, has 130 friends, and is connected to 80 pages, groups, and events (Statistic Brain, 2015). Recent academic research supports some of these statistics. For example, Akyildiz and Argan (2011) found that users log into their site several times a day, have 101-300 friends, and spent 15-30 minutes daily on Facebook-related activities. Other studies have found an average use time of at least 30 minutes per session (Mazman & Usluel, 2010; Pempek, Yermolayeva & Calvert, 2009), while Muise, Christofides, & Desmarais, 2009) found that respondents spent approximately 40 minutes on Facebook with females tending to spend a longer time than males.

A dominant theme in prior studies has been to examine the Facebook and social networking experience and use for college students (Ellison, Steinfield & Lampe 2007; Pempek et. al., 2009; Akyildiz & Argan, 2011; Case & King, 2012; Paul, Baker & Cochran, 2012). Such use of Facebook has also provided a rich setting for studies in a variety of use and user topics such as identity construction (Boyd & Heer, 2006), the effect of social media on student engagement and academic performance (Junco, 2012), privacy (Lewis, Kaufman & Christakis, 2008; Mathiyalakan, Heilman & White, 2013; Pinchot & Paullet, 2012; Whitcomb & Fiedler, 2010), interaction with elected officials (Stieglitz & Brockmann, 2013), and a variety of demographic comparisons including age, gender, ethnicity and academic major (Gabre & Kumar, 2012; Grasmuck, Martin & Zhao, 2009; Hargittai, 2008; Heilman, Mathiyalakan, White, Seshie & Clark, 2014; Junco, 2010; Mathiyalakan, Heilman, White, Wood & Weisenfeld, 2014). …

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