Published June 13, 2017
Congratulations to PhD Candidate Carol Scott, Associate Professor Laina Bay-Cheng, Research Professor Tom Nochajski and colleagues on the publication of their article, "Time spent online: Latent profile analyses of emerging adults’ social media use," in Computers in Human Behavior.
Scott, C. F., Bay-Cheng, L. Y., Prince, M. A., Collins, R. L., & Nochajski, T. H. (2017). Time spent online: Latent profile analyses of emerging adults’ social media use. Computers in Human Behavior, 75, 311-319. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2017.05.026
Studies of youth social media use (SMU) often focus on its frequency, measuring how much time they spend online. While informative, this perspective is only one way of viewing SMU. Consistent with uses and gratification theory, another is to consider how youth spend their time online (i.e., degree of engagement). We conducted latent profile analyses of survey data from 249 U.S. emerging adults (ages 18–26) to explore their SMU in terms of frequency and engagement. We derived separate 3-profile solutions for both frequency and engagement. High frequency social media users tended to be women and to have more Facebook friends. Highly engaged users (i.e., those most interactive online) tended to be White and more highly educated. Findings from this exploratory study indicate that youth SMU frequency and SMU engagement warrant separate consideration. As SMU becomes more ingrained into the fabric of daily life, it is conceivable that engagement may be a more meaningful way to assess youth SMU, especially in relation to the digital divide, since it can be used to meet important needs, including social interaction, information exchange, and self-expression.