RA5: You have been poked: Exploring the uses and gratifications of Facebook among emerging adults

Bumgarner, B. (2007). You have been poked: Exploring the uses and gratifications of Facebook among emerging adults. First Monday, 12(11). Retrieved from http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/viewArticle/2026/1897

This paper examines why students use Facebook or how it fulfills their needs. Essentially, it is to understand what motivates college students to use Facebook and the gratifications they receive from doing so.

An online survey was conducted to measure the different possible motivations for using Facebook. Also it was to determine the importance that different uses of the site gave.

3,944 respondents were randomly contacted using the Facebook website of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The questionnaire asked participants to rate how important they valued the ability to perform 38 specific actions of Facebook, suck as “poking others”, “writing on friends’ walls” and “joining groups”. Afterwards, participants were asked to rate how much they agreed with statements in regard to motivation for using Facebook and the gratification they received.

In ranking Facebook uses, users found it to be most important to have the ability to carry out functions related to “Friending”, like accepting friends, browsing friends, seeing how others are connected, etc. Then, they like being able to share and see others’ “Personal information”, as well as being able to see “Practical information” like course and contact information. Other uses that were ranked were “Regulatory functions”, “Groups”, “Events”, and “Misc. features”, but scored on the lower half of the scale.

When ranking motivations, “Social Utility” was ranked the highest, which is being able to use Facebook with friends and talk with them. Being able to use Facebook as a “Directory” to keep track of people came next. Then “Voyerism”, or being able to learn about others from a distance. Other ranked motivations included “Herd instincts”, “Collection and connection”, “Personal expression”, and lastly, “Initiating relationships”.

A correlation between these motivations and uses were then examined. Most results showed that uses of Facebook all were related to Voyeurism, even something as small as reading other people’s walls but not writing on them. Reading walls were also the primary way that Facebook users received gratification in the motivation of Diversion.

This article concluded by referring to Facebook not as a way to keep connected with others, but as a, “virtual watering hole that dispenses information about peers.” An interesting point of view, but I mostly see this as information related to my own study in what features of Facebook users value. It is conducted similarly to another article I analyzed yet fails to go as in depth as the other one.

Regardless, motivations found had similarities, but some were grouped in different ways and labeled differently compared to the other article I read. While this survey had many respondents, they were limited to one area which may skew possible results. For example, maybe these users need not keep connected with others as much because they live in close proximity with one another, thus resulting in browsing information of others instead.

Overall, it was a decent focus on the gratifications received from using Facebook features. I especially liked how they focused on the correlation between uses and motivations, which further supports my review of background research.


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