Social capital: the benefit of Facebook ‘friends’ | PEI AUDIT |

Abstract: This research investigated the role Facebook use plays in the creation or maintenance of social capital among university students in South Africa. Data were collected using questionnaires completed by over 800 students from 7 universities. The questionnaire was obtained from a study conducted in Michigan State University (Ellison N.B., Steinfield, C., and Lampe, C., 2007. The benefits of Facebook “Friends”: social capital and college students' use of online social network sites. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12(4), 1143–1168.). Empirical research has linked social capital to many positives in society, such as improved mental and physical health, economic well-being, etc. Thus, social capital is important for the success of civil society. This research examined the relationships between Facebook use and the formation and maintenance of social capital amongst university students. The study also examined factors specific to the South African context and drew comparisons to the results of the original study. Analysis of the results suggests a strong association between the intensity of Facebook use and perceived bridging, bonding and maintained social capital. This paper broadens the understanding of Facebook usage by introducing the dimensions of race and age. Facebook usage was found to interact with measures of psychological well-being, suggesting that it might be beneficial to students experiencing low self-esteem and low life satisfaction.

Via Society for College and University Planning (SCUP)