Online social networking sites have experienced a surge in popularity since their inception. Serving as a hub for communities of all ages, Web sites such as MySpace, Friendster and Facebook bridge geographic and time limitations and offer their members the opportunity to connect with anyone on the Internet at any time. The growing accessibility of technology for computer-mediated communication, outside of such Web sites offers similar opportunities. Although critics share concern over potential for the loss of intimacy, the possibility for increased levels of perceived social support through limitless networking options should not be overlooked. When we consider the strong connection between perceived social support and perceived stress, which are linked to physical and mental symptomatology, the possible benefits are worthy of inquiry. This study explores the constructs of perceived social support and perceived stress and examines the impact of online social networking sites and computer-mediated communication upon a person’s experience of them. Results supported Cohen’s Stress-buffering hypothesis. A significant negative correlation was found for the association between reported levels of perceived social support and levels of perceived stress. Facebook use was not significantly related to perceived social support. This finding failed the second step for establishing mediation and disproved the hypothesis that perceived social support mediates a negative correlation between Facebook use and perceived stress. Further exploration revealed a significant relationship between respondent preference for computermediated communication, perceived social support, and perceived stress, however. The more that respondents preferred online communication to face-to-face or telephone communication, the greater the level of stress they perceived. Also, respondents who reported a preference for computer-mediated communication reported lower levels of perceived social support. A regression analysis was performed on these two relationships and perceived social support was found to mediate the relationship between a preference for computer-mediated communication and higher levels of perceived stress.
|Commitee:||Hammer, Dean, Hawes, Susan, Slammon, William|
|School Location:||United States -- Ohio|
|Source:||DAI-B 79/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Computer-mediated communication, Facebook, Mediation, Perceived social support, Perceived stress, Social networking sites|
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