Students’ Use of Email and Facebook: A Comparative Perspective

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Institutionen för informatik och media

Author: Synthia Bintey Rahman; [2013]

Keywords: ;


Facebook and email have become widely used communication media to Internet users. University students are a major part of Internet users and they use email and Facebook for multiple communication purposes. This research investigates the context of using Facebook and email by university students, the context of choosing any of the medium in respective communication over the last two years, and student perceptions with regard to Facebook and email as communication media. This study was accomplished by a mixed-method research using a questionnaire survey (n=321) and focus group discussions, and grounded in both Uses and Gratifications and Media Richness Theory. Research found that students use Facebook for non-professional and informal reasons and email for professional and formal reasons. Research found changes in choosing medium for such contexts in the last two years; use of email for social communication decreased and use of Facebook increased instead. However, students are firm about using email for formal and professional communication. Students perceive Facebook as an easier, faster and more convenient mode for social and group communication and to organize events; while they perceive email as a more formal mode, which they can use for professional communication. Students do not think that Facebook can serve all the purposes of email. The results suggest that email is no longer being used for all sorts of communication. Although students use both media simultaneously, they distinguish between social and professional communication. They choose media according to their needs and satisfaction, and they also consider how effective and rich the medium is for specific communication purposes.

Key words: Email, Facebook, Social Networking Sites (SNSs), Mass Self-communication, the Network Society, Uses and Gratification Theory, Media Richness Theory and ICT.

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