According to Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Jeffrey Hal, his new study, published in the journal Information, Communication & Society, shows no evidence for the proposition that social media crowds out face-to-face communication with those who ought to matter most, our close friends and family members.
Echoing concerns that grew with the Internet itself, the rise of social media has stoked fears of “social displacement… the alienation of people from friends and family in favor of Facebook and Twitter...” A new study co-authored by a University of Kansas researcher goes a fair distance toward debunking that notion.
In their paper “Two tests of social displacement through social media use,” Hall and then-KU doctoral students Michael Kearney and Chong Xing performed two unique studies.
In the first study, they compared data sets from the Longitudinal Study of American Youth from 2009 and 2011 to see whether there was any decrease in interpersonal contact that could be correlated with increased use of social media, no such relationship was found.
The second study was one the authors designed and executed themselves in 2015. They recruited 116 people, half of them adults and half college students, and texted them five times a day for five consecutive days, querying them each time about their use of social media and direct social contacts in the previous 10 minutes.
Hall notes that several studies have questioned the displacement effect, and yet the theory seems stubbornly resistant to debunking. Hall suspects that time spent pursuing social media has displaced older forms of media, e.g., reading the newspaper, browsing the Internet or watching television. For now, Hall is pleased to be able to challenge conventional wisdom using an old theory applied to new media, concludes the report.
For additional information about the studies, please visit KU news here.