Does Facebook Help Students Adapt to College?
Last updated: 8 Oct 2018
Recent psychological research suggests that social networking can help university students feel supported in their first few weeks at school. Investigating the possibility, Dr. Chris Stiff from Keele University, UK, carried out a study on undergraduates’ use of Facebook and their adjustment.
A total of 141 students completed anonymous questionnaires on their self-esteem, well-being and stress levels, and their Facebook use. This showed that students who interacted more on Facebook in their first semester reported being happier and less stressed and had higher self-esteem. However, a greater number of Facebook friends did not appear to be beneficial.
The second part of the study involved 169 students completing the same questionnaire halfway through their first year. At this point, the frequency of their Facebook use was not linked to stress, self-esteem or well-being, but having more Facebook friends was linked to higher self-esteem and well-being.
In the first semester, students who have a tight support network surrounding them are likely to feel more confident and appreciated, say the researchers. By the second half of the year, those with more friends on Facebook are likely to be the ones who have been happier, interacted more, and have therefore made more new friends.
Dr. Stiff presented his findings last September at the British Psychological Society annual conference in Cambridge, UK. He believes that receiving frequent messages on Facebook could help students who are about to begin college and are feeling in need of support.
“When teenagers come to university for the first time, they may find this significant life transition extremely stressful. Moreover, as the new student’s local support network is no longer available due to their geographical displacement, stress and associated maladies may be exacerbated.
“Facebook is not just a tool for superficial social networking,” he said, “it is also a highly effective conduit for social support during students’ first few dizzying months at university.”
However, more recent research suggests that people who spend more time on Facebook have a relatively worse self-image. Dr. Hui-Tzu Chou of Utah Valley University and colleagues explain that Facebook “provides a platform for people to manage others’ impressions of them.” Because people tend to present themselves in a favorable way on their Facebook profile, reading these profiles may have an impact on others’ perceptions of their own lives.