With hundreds of millions of active users every day, Facebook is an amazing tool for people to socialize, and naturally sociologists are studying how and why it is used. For many, Facebook represents a way to stay connected with distant friends, but what influences their decision to use Facebook instead of another method? This is what researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia decided to investigate, which led to some interesting discoveries.
The researchers surveyed over 225 college freshmen students about their Facebook connections, emotional connectedness to Facebook, how lonely and anxious they feel, and how much they use alcohol and marijuana. Crunching the numbers revealed that anxiousness, alcohol use and marijuana use all predict how connected one is to Facebook. Both anxiousness and alcohol use positively predicted Facebook connectedness, though for different reasons. Anxious people appear to prefer the site for connecting with people over meeting them in person, while alcohol users are trying to fit in socially, by joining others on Facebook, thereby becoming more emotionally connected to the social network. Marijuana use however has the opposite effect on Facebook connectedness, which the researchers suggest is because its use is less acceptable in society, so people are less likely to post about it.
Curiously, the researchers found that the students who reported most strongly a sense of loneliness, were not emotionally connected to Facebook. However these students were using Facebook to connect with others.
Source: University of Missouri-Columbia