Academic journal article Informatica Economica

Usage of Facebook by University Students in Romania and Lithuania: A Comparative Study

Academic journal article Informatica Economica

Usage of Facebook by University Students in Romania and Lithuania: A Comparative Study

Article excerpt

1 Introduction

Platforms supporting social networking on the Internet are applications for the creation, sharing and exchange of user-generated content that manifests in various forms: forums, blogs, instant messaging, collaborative projects, and virtual communities. Facebook (FB) is a social networking website that has an explosive growth in the last years and an increased popularity among university students [2, 17].

The shift of paradigm towards social learning brings in front various activities such as meeting, active participation, critical thinking, information and content sharing, collaboration, and debate. Last but not least, Facebook is favoring the offline university education of students [4, 5, 14, 16, 13].

The usage of social networking websites in general [18, 3, 10] and Facebook, in particular [17, 16] has been extensively studied. However, there is still little data available regarding the variations across countries, towns, faculty profile, and gender. Understanding how university students are using Facebook is important in order to exploit the potential benefits of social networking for the university life.

In order to explore the use of Facebook by university people, Lamanauskas et al. [11] carried on a qualitative study based on two focus groups in Siauliai University, Lithuania. Their findings show that Facebook is useful for individual and educational institution image and the formation of groups. In this moment, the educational possibilities are still not sufficiently used / revealed, so more investigations are needed in this area.

Iordache [8] carried on a similar study in Romania based on structured interview. His findings show that Facebook is easy to use and enables students to express themselves freely. According to students' perceptions, Facebook is useful for keeping in touch with people from home, facilitating of interactive activities, sharing of teaching and grouprelated materials, and formation of new groups.

Based on the results of previous work and these two qualitative studies a new evaluation instrument was developed in order to better understand why and how university students are using Facebook and which are the educational benefits of this social networking website [15].

This paper aims at comparatively presenting the results of two studies carried on in Lithu- ania and Romania based on the same evaluation instrument that was administrated in December 2014, respectively January 2015.

The main research questions of this study are:

· Why are university students using Facebook and how much is the usage related to the university context?

· How large is the network size of university students and how many Facebook friends are students?

· How often are university students logging on Facebook and how much time do they spend?

· How does usage vary across countries, towns, and gender?

2 Method and Empirical Studies

2.1 Method and Data Sample

The questionnaire was administrated to university students from three towns: Siauliai, Vilnius, and Bucharest. Respondents were asked to fill in several control variables (age, gender, university, faculty, year of study), usage variables (size of Facebook network, frequency of use, minutes per day), and then to evaluate several items on a 7 points Likert scale.

A total of 152 students from Lithuania (110 female, 42 male) and 62 students from Romania (110 female, 42 male) answered the questionnaire. Most of them are under graduate (144 from Lithuania and 62 from Romania). Lithuanian students' age is varying from 18 to 45 (M=23.47, SD=5.62), most of the students (79%) being between 18 and 25 years old.

Students are from four faculties in Lithuania and one faculty in Romania: technology and science (80), educology (57), arts (11), humanitarian (4), and electronics (62).

2.2 Data Analysis

SPPS 15 for Windows was used for statistical data analysis. In order to compare data, the two samples were merged in a working sample of 214 observations. …

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