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Social Network Use Reflects East-West Differences

Social Network Use Reflects East-West Differences The stark contrast between America’s “me first” culture and the “collective good” mentality in China is reflected in the two countries’ use of social networking sites, according to a new study.

U.S. citizens spend more time on networking sites, consider them to be more important and have more “friends” on the sites, according to survey research by Dr. Linda Jackson, a pscyhologist at Michigan State University said.

Jackson said Chinese citizens tend to be more interested in real-world relationships than online friendships and less inclined toward the self-promotion that’s popular on sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

“In the United States, it’s all about promoting yourself and taking credit for positive outcomes and denying blame for negative outcomes,” Jackson said. “In China, it’s the opposite. If something bad happens, you take the blame and talk about how you can improve. If something good happens, the credit is shared for the good of the group.”

Jackson and Jin-Liang Wang, a researcher at China’s Southwest University, surveyed more than 400 college-aged residents from each country on their use of social network sites. The most popular social networking site in the United States is Facebook; in China it’s Ozone.

The study found that U.S. participants spent nearly twice as long on social networking sites (nearly 52 minutes a day) compared with Chinese participants (about 28 minutes a day). Nearly one-fifth (19 percent) of Chinese participants said they almost never use social networking sites, compared to just 4 percent in the United States, the researchers report.

The Chinese parenting style likely plays a role in the disparity, according to Jackson. Chinese parents emphasize effort as a means to achievement and success, she said, and using social networking sites is not consistent with this focus as it takes away from schoolwork. “Chinese parents may discourage or even forbid their children from using social networking sites,” she said.

Chinese children also are less likely than U.S. children to have multiple computers in the home. Because of the communal nature of Chinese culture, many homes have just one computer, located in a shared space.

But Jackson said she doesn’t see it as an issue with access. “If Chinese students really wanted to go online more, they easily could, whether it’s at home or at school. It’s more of a motivation factor,” she said. “It becomes a question of what’s important in life. In China, it’s more important to sit down for a family dinner or concentrate on your homework or help your parents clean the house.”

Jackson added she’s concerned about the potential negative effects of spending an increasing amount of time online.

“Because we are essentially social creatures, I cannot see good coming out of social isolation and practices that encourage aloneness and solitary activities — and a lot of technology does this,” she said.

The study was published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.

Source: Michigan State University


Upset woman looking away from her computer photo by shutterstock.

Social Network Use Reflects East-West Differences

Janice Wood

Janice Wood is a long-time writer and editor who began working at a daily newspaper before graduating from college. She has worked at a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites, covering everything from aviation to finance to healthcare.

APA Reference
Wood, J. (2018). Social Network Use Reflects East-West Differences. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 5, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 9 Feb 2013)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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