This paper explores the relationship between Internet use among college students and the production of individual level social capital. As such, this paper applied the uses and gratifications theory to motivations for using the Internet among college students, in an effort to observe the relationship between time spent online in an average day, motivations for using the Internet, and the production of individual level social capital. Individual level indicators of social capital—life contentment, interpersonal trust, and volunteerism—are discussed in detail.
An online survey measured study participants’ (N=252) time spent on the Internet in a given day, their primary reasons for using the Internet, and their general life contentment, trust in others, and volunteer behavior. A total of five motivations for using the Internet were extracted from a principal components factor analysis and were labeled surveillance, escape, boredom, entertainment, and information. Each social capital variable was regressed on the five gratification variables in a multiple regression analysis, which revealed that while total time online was not a predictor of the overall life contentment and volunteer behavior, it is predictive of interpersonal trust. Findings also showed that only the information gratification is related to interpersonal trust, but none of the other gratifications were predictive of individual level social capital. The predictive power of Internet use is then analyzed relative to key demographic characteristics.
Additionally, the functional theory was applied to determine participants’ motivations for engaging in volunteer work. A total of five motivations for volunteering were extracted from a principal components factor analysis and were labeled career, social, values, and protective. A multiple regression analysis was employed to observe which of the gratifications sought by Internet use is predictive of each motivation to volunteer. Findings showed that overall time online in an average day is predictive of motivation to volunteer out of personal values. Findings also showed that respondents who use the Internet to be entertained are motivated to volunteer by career ambitions, respondents who use the Internet for surveillance are more likely to volunteer as a reflection of their personal values, and respondents who use the Internet to escape are motivated to volunteer by the prospect of reducing their own guilt for being more fortunate than others. A second multiple regression was conducted to determine whether life contentment, interpersonal trust, and volunteer behavior are predictive of particular motivations to volunteer. Additional research on social capital and new media is suggested. Implications of study findings are also discussed.
|School:||University of Missouri - Columbia|
|School Location:||United States -- Missouri|
|Source:||MAI 50/03M, Masters Abstracts International|
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