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The Effects of Social Media on Actual Relationships in Young Adults

Dianté Gibbs, Emily Goodman, Carolyn Rennix and Crystal Thomison
Mass Communication Theory and Research – Dr. Patwardhan

For our social media survey, questions on issues related to
The use of social media and the Internet is at an all-time high,
social media usage were posed. We asked questions related to
especially for young adults. With Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, time spent on social media, the forms of social media most used,
Twitter and dozens of other methods of communication available interactions with people online, and the effects of forming
on the Internet and phone applications (apps), young adults are friendships and romantic relationships online.
using social media on a daily basis. Access to social media makes it Our online survey was a total of 16 questions: 9 were multiple
even easier for young adults to communicate with each other, choice, 1 multiple response, 1 ranking, 1 Likert rating, and 2 open-
without actually having to speak and interact face-to-face. ended questions. To ensure that we had the most participants
Research by Valkenburg and Peter has shown that this new form of possible for our research, we posted it on various social media
communication actually negatively affects the way young adults platforms such as Facebook and GroupMe. We also submitted it to
form actual relationships, as well as their self-esteem. Winthrop University’s daily student announcements. Our survey
was more longitudinal than cross-sectional, as we were surveying
This study examines, explores and investigates the effects of our sample over a prolonged period and kept track of our statistics
social media on actual relationships in young adults. Using survey overtime. The survey questions were designed around the
methodology, we hope to uncover what demographics contribute following research questions:
to social media usage, how often young adults befriend someone
on social media, and if young adults prefer to use social media as a RQ1: What are the social media habits for young adults?
means to form relationships rather than in the offline world. Our
research will look at social media trends among young adults and
RQ2: What aspects of social media do young adults use most often?
how this usage hinders their ability to form relationships while
offline. This study will also advance our understanding about
young adults’ dependency on social media, its negative effects and RQ3: What impact do social media have on the day-to-day routine
why young adults have trouble forming personal relationships for young adults?
RQ4: What are young adults’ opinions about social media
RQ5: How often do young adults befriend someone on social media
and how often do they communicate with that person?
Motivations for Social Media Usage
• Younger teenagers use social media to attract friends RQ6: To what extent do young adults pursue romantic relationships
through social media?
(Livingstone, 2008)
• Older teenagers seek more authentic relationships (Livingstone,
2008) Frequency of Communication with Percentage of CONCLUSION
• Extraverted adolescents are online on a regular basis forming
Frequency of Friendships Percentage of Online Friend Respondents
friendships (Peter, Valkenburg & Schouten, 2005)
• Introverted adolescents try to compensate for lack of offline Formed Online Respondents Less than an hour 63%
In conclusion, we found that young adults are frequent users of
relationships (Peter, Valkenburg & Schouten, 2005) 1-2 hours 27% social media, which in return negatively affects their daily lives
Yes 69%
2-3 hours 3% offline, including their relationships with others. However, we
Social Media Relationships found that the respondents did not use social media as much as we
No 31% 3-4 hours 0%
• 59% of 13-17 year olds were in contact with their best friend predicted before conducting our research. We also found that:
online (Lenhart, 2015) 5 hours or more 6%
I’d rather not say 0 • 75% of the respondents said that social media negatively affects
• Used as the main venue for flirting (Lenhart, Anderson & Smith, Total 100%
their day-to-day routine, including face-to-face interaction with
2015) Total 100% Standard Deviation 1.04 friends, studying, work, family time, and physical activity.
• 92% of young adults use texting as main form of communication
(Lenhart, Anderson & Smith, 2015) • Nearly 38% of these respondents said that using social media
• 87% prefer face to face interaction (Lenhart, Anderson & Smith, affected their personal interaction with their friends, but later
2015) in the survey
• Nearly 56% strongly disagreed that their online relationships
Negative Aspects negatively affected their offline relationships. We found that
• Possible sexual predation, racism and hate messages this was contradicting information.
(Subrahmanyam and Greenfield, 2008) • The majority of our findings supported that the use of social
• Social media stifles development of adolescents (Hess, 2014) Frequency of Romantic Percentage of Respondents media does negatively affect relationships among young adults
• Deprived of learning how to interact in most basic ways (Hess, Relationships Formed and other aspects of their daily lives; however, not to the
2014) Online degree that we expected.
• Offline relationships are best for deeper relationships (Galasso, Yes 34% • Although social media has negative implications, they are not as
2015) extreme as initially assumed by society.
• Users cautioned not to devote bulk of time to person digitally No 66%
(Galasso, 2015)
I’d rather not say 0%

Total 100%
Dianté Gibbs: Carolyn Rennix:
Emily Goodman: Crystal Thomison: