Psychological analysis has revealed that the new social networks have changed the way that people perceive their social networks.
The results of the research were presented at the Annual Conference of the American Psychological Association in Los Angeles, California, this week.
“This is really exciting news because we are starting to see the impact of new technology on our social networks,” says Dr Mark Schreiber, the lead author of the study from the University of Pennsylvania.
“What we are finding is that when people use a new platform they think differently about their networks and it has a positive impact on their lives.”
To understand how the social networks affect people’s lives, Dr Schreib and colleagues surveyed more than 10,000 adults online about their lives using a series of questions, including: Do you think your social network is “a place where you can share your opinions, connect with other like-minded people, or get advice, advice, and more”?
Do you have any friends or family who share your views?
Do you share with other people on your network?
How important is your relationship to your social networks?
How do you think people perceive your social networking presence?
“We found that people’s social network presence increased as they became more involved in a new network, so this was a good indicator of how active people are,” Dr Schraiber says.
“We also found that the more they used their network, the more likely they were to use it in a positive way.”
To find out what that positive experience of a social network might be, the researchers conducted an experiment in which participants were given a choice between Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
“After the experiment, people who had used their social network more often reported higher levels of happiness, higher levels in the positive emotions scale, and a higher degree of social satisfaction,” Dr Reib says.
The researchers also found a correlation between the amount of time people spend in a social networking network and how well they perceive their network.
“People who spent a greater amount of their time in a network were also more likely to report higher levels, positive emotions and satisfaction with their social life,” Dr. Reib said.
“So people who are more active on their social networking networks are also happier, happier, more satisfied in their lives and happier and happier.”
In the future, Dr Reiber says it’s important to keep these new social networking platforms in mind when planning a social gathering.
“As a society, we need to be thinking about the ways we use these new platforms in the future and how we manage them in a more meaningful way,” he says.
In a blog post, Dr. SchreIB described the findings as a “step in the right direction” towards understanding how we use social media.
“Our results suggest that people are now more likely than ever to use these platforms for their own purposes,” he said.
In the past, the use of social networking sites has been largely confined to social networking apps, so the researchers believe these new developments will provide a wider variety of ways to connect with each other, such as via the internet.
“Using a new, more connected platform will provide new avenues for people to engage with each another and connect with a broader community of people,” Dr Reinhardt says.
And in the end, the research findings suggest that there is value in the way we connect online.
“I think that the internet is a tool for us to share ideas, to engage in conversation, to learn, to create new experiences and connect online, and I think that these new networks offer new opportunities for people in a lot of different ways,” Dr Shreib says, “and that is really cool.”
The full paper, titled “Social Networking in the 21st Century: A Re-imagining of Social Media?” is available online.
Topics: psychology, social-media, communication-and-communication, social, community-and/or-society, australia