Impacts of Social Networking Sites among University Students in Hong Kong: Analytical Essay

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1. Introduction

The dramatic increase in the use of social networking sites has attracted much attention in the recent years because of the growing popularity among people, especially university students. Undoubtedly, the remarkable growth of the internet has greatly enhanced communication and interactions among people without time and geographical constraints. Such an effective communication tool has led to a higher reliance on the use of social networking sites of people nowadays, in which students usually spend several hours on social networking sites daily as an integral part of their daily routines (Yazdanfar & Aghili, 2012). Although various researchers (Asiedu, 2017; Jacobsen & Forste, 2011) have identified the impacts of social networking sites on social relationship and academic performance among university students in other countries, more work is needed in the case of Hong Kong. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to investigate the impacts of social networking sites on university students studying in Hong Kong, in terms of social relationship and academic performance, which are the two main spheres of university life. An online questionnaire was given to 20 university students studying in Hong Kong in order to investigate their social relationship and academic performance after using social networking sites. In this paper, the first section reviews the relevant studies on the impacts of social networking sites on students. The second part presents the methodology of the questionnaire, followed by the presentation of the findings. The next section presents a discussion of the findings, and the final section summarizes the key findings and considers the implications of the findings for the use of social networking sites.

2. Literature Review

2.1 Social Networking Sites

Boyd and Ellison (2007) define social networking sites as an online service which aims to construct a linkage among people and allow them to share their common interests or academic related information within a particular group. This indicates that social networking site provides a place for people to establish relations with others in order to share their activities, interests, and personal experiences. According to the study conducted by Heiberger and Harper (2008), social networking sites had entirely penetrated into the people’s daily life and it was commonly recognized as a modern communication tool. The popular types of social networking sites include WhatsApp Messenger, Facebook, and YouTube. Although social networking sites can be used for different purposes, some of the most common purposes are to chat with friends and maintain friendships or even create relationships (Asemah & Edegoh, 2012).

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2.2 Social Relationship

Social relationship is defined as a social connection between two or more people, which usually refers to family, friends, and significant others, that can be brief or enduring (Ho, 1998). In addition, Maxwell (2004) discovered that the existence of some things would draw two persons together which made them to stay in a particular relationship, while these things could be their common interests, such as similar aspirational goal (as cited in Obakpolo, 2015).

2.3 Use of Social Networking Sites and Social Relationship of Students

Many previous studies have identified that there is a positive association between the use of social networking sites and the social relationship of students (Asiedu, 2017; Cho, 2015; Manjunatha, 2013). According to a study conducted on the impacts of social media on university students in Africa (as cited in Asiedu, 2017), it showed that students generally had more friends on social networking sites than in real life and they were more capable of expressing themselves on these sites. The result of this study emphasizes that the use of social networking sites is helpful in strengthening the interpersonal skills and thus the social relationship of students, especially those bashful students. Besides, Baym, Zhang, and Lin (2004) conducted a survey study on the social interactions of university students in all social media, in which 51 participants were randomly selected to take part in this study. The researchers found that the majority of students still preferred and valued face-to-face interaction despite the availability of social networking sites, while only few of them preferred social interactions with others through the internet. This asserts that the use of social networking sites will not only cause no harms to the normal development of social interactions of students but also greatly enhanced their social relationship by having more social contacts with their friends.

2.4 Academic Performance

Academic performance is a multi-dimensional construct comprising of three dimensions, which are student’s qualities, lecturer’s capabilities, and learning environment (Salvation & Adzharuddin, 2014). For the qualities of students, it involves the extent of students in coping with their studies and different assignments given by their lecturers, which mainly depends on student’s learning ability, personality trait, and socio-economic status (Loo & Choy, 2013). For the lecturer’s capabilities, it concerns the ability of lecturers in delivering their knowledge to students, but it is also affected by the presence of non-human elements nowadays. For the learning environment, it includes the number and quality of learning facilities, such as library and adequate classrooms, and the availability of supplementary teaching resources or materials. All these three dimensions are crucial factors in determining the academic performance of students. Academic performance can be concluded as “the result of education, through which the students, teachers, and institutions achieve their goals simultaneously” (Waqas, Afzal, Zaman, & Sabir, 2016, p.268). However, this study will mainly focus on the aspects that are related to students’ perspectives. It is usually measured through the continuous assessment tasks and the periodic examinations, but there is no consensus on what is the best method to measure the academic performance (ibid).

2.5 Use of Social Networking Sites and Academic Performance of Students

Two opposing views have been shown by many previous studies on the association between the use of social networking sites and the academic performance of students. On the positive side, students can exchange ideas with their friends through group discussions, while they can also communicate with their lecturers about the assignments on the social networking sites. At the same time, teachers can share course materials, such as lecture notes and relevant readings, with their students through social networking sites. Various research studies have been conducted to prove that the use of social networking sites is beneficial in the learning process and thus academic performance of students if it is treated as a tool to enrich knowledge and to complement what has been taught in the lectures (Griffith & Liyanage, 2008; Oskouei & Chaudhary, 2010). This affirms that the appropriate use of social networking sites for academic purposes is helpful for students to strive for a better academic result. On the other hand, a number of past research studies have also identified that there is a negative association between the uses of social networking sites and the academic performance of students. A study conducted by Hamat, Embi, and Hassan (2010) discovered that most of the students used social networking sites for socializing purposes rather than studying, which implied that the time originally planned for studies would become used for non-academic purposes, such as chatting with friends. Furthermore, some students even became addicted into these sites and used them during lectures or important events. According to the study conducted by Jacobsen and Forste (2011), two-third of the students had used social networking sites while having lessons, doing assignments or revision. This can be explained as the excessive use of social networking sites and failure in managing the usage time, which caused a distraction from their studies and thus resulted in poor academic performance.

2.6 Research Questions

The purpose of the present study was to examine the impacts of social networking sites on social relationship and academic performance among university students in Hong Kong. The research questions were formulated as follows:

  1. What social networking sites do most of the university students often use nowadays? 2. How long do the students use these social networking sites per day?
  2. Why do the students use these social networking sites?
  3. Do the students have a better social relationship after using these social networking sites?
  4. Do the students get an improvement in their academic performance after using these social networking sites?

3. Methodology

3.1 Participants

There were 20 participants in this study, 16 male and four female students. All participants were undergraduate students studying at universities in Hong Kong and were selected through convenience sampling. Among the participants, 11 were between 20 and 21 years old, eight were between 18 and 19 years old and one was between 22 and 23 years old. For the year of study among participants, 17 were from year 2, two were from year 1 and one was from year 4. They came from the faculties of science, social science, engineering, business administration, architecture, and medicine.

3.2 Questionnaire

An online survey with 40 items was administered. The questionnaire was adapted from the ones designed by Manjunatha (2013) and Waqas, Afzal, Zaman, and Sabir (2016). It was divided into three sections. Section A contained 13 questions answered in multiple-choice format to collect demographic data and basic information in the use of social networking sites. Section B contained six questions answered on a 4-point Likert scale (from “1”=” strongly disagree” to “4”=” strongly agree”), four in multiple-choice format, and one open-ended question to investigate the impacts of social relationships on university students brought by social networking sites. Section C contained 12 questions answered on a 4-point Likert scale (from “1”=” strongly disagree” to “4”=” strongly agree”) and two open-ended questions to investigate the impacts of academic performance on university students brought by social networking sites. Some modifications in the original questionnaire conducted by Manjunatha (2013) and Waqas et al. (2016) were made in order to suit with the purpose of this study.

3.3 Data Collection

The data collection was carried out from 19th March 2019 to 26th March 2019. The survey was administered online on Google. Before the survey, there was an abstract that stated the aims of the survey and guaranteed confidentiality of any personal information. In general, it took the respondents 5-10 minutes to finish the questionnaire. During the administration, the researcher was not present but questions could be raised through instant messaging in WhatsApp Messenger or Facebook.

3.4 Data Analysis

Survey data was manually inputted into an excel file for descriptive statistical analysis, while open-ended survey responses were typed in word files for qualitative analysis. For multiple-choice format and Likert-scale questions, the frequency and percentages of the questionnaire responses on each item would be directly reported. But for easier interpretation, the data in Likert-scale questions were collapsed into a 2-point scale for both section B and C, for example, the data for strongly agree and agree were collapsed into agree.

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Impacts of Social Networking Sites among University Students in Hong Kong: Analytical Essay. (2022, August 12). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 16, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/impacts-of-social-networking-sites-among-university-students-in-hong-kong-analytical-essay/
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Impacts of Social Networking Sites among University Students in Hong Kong: Analytical Essay [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Aug 12 [cited 2024 Jun 16]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/impacts-of-social-networking-sites-among-university-students-in-hong-kong-analytical-essay/
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