The Impact of Facebook

Topics: Facebook, Social network service, Nonverbal communication Pages: 52 (17974 words) Published: November 1, 2012
Running Head: Facebook


A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of the Communication Department at Southern Utah University

In partial fulfillment Of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts in Professional Communication

By Malynda Bjerregaard Dr. Brian L. Heuett, Thesis Supervisor April 2010

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Malynda Bjerregaard Dr. Brian L. Heuett, Thesis Supervisor ABSTRACT

Discrepancies exist surrounding the logistics of social networking sites, Internet abuse, privacy, nonverbal skills, academic performance, and more for many communication researchers. The present study seeks to understand nonverbal communication, privacy, and academic performance in regards to social networking sites like Facebook. The method used for this study contains multiple assessment variables: questionnaire, face-to-face self-reporting, and written self-reporting. Subjects used in this study reside at a small, southwestern community college and are enrolled in communication, social science, or biology courses. The results quantified from this research sheds light on the ongoing social network dilemma and its effects on subtle nonverbal decoding and academic performance. Human communication in its most rudimentary form has existed since the origins of humans. However, within the past three decades the foundations of how people communicate most definitely has changed. One reason for this change is the advancements in communication technology, such as: Internet use, email, texting, instant messaging, and social networking sites, to name a few. People are looking for the instantaneous, television savvy connection that a computer identity can afford.

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In the past, researchers wondered if the Internet would modify traditional face-to-face (FTF) communication (Flaherty, Pearce, & Rubin, 1998; Barber, Mattson, & Peterson, 1997; London, 1993). Researchers today are still debating whether that modification has come to pass (McLeod & Ho, 2008) and what the effects of that replacement will be. Most current communication scholars agree that people from all background, and skill level, utilize the Internet as one of the most basic forms of communication. This dependency requires additional consideration for the effects that its use might create. Communication scholars looking into the interpersonal consequences of computermediated communication (CMC) have reached differing conclusions over the years. Early research suggested that CMC only supplemented face-to-face (FTF) communication since most individuals who used the Internet to communicate most often arranged an interpersonal, inperson meeting shortly thereafter (Ellison, Steinfield, & Lampe 2007). Findings from this line of thinking suggest that the most positive relationships will exist only incrementally online due to the impersonal, blunt, and even ‘flaming’ behavior that CMC elicits (Parks, 1996). Since relationship cues maintained primarily through nonverbal communication are missing from CMC, researchers judged communication through the Internet as being less rich than FTF interactions (Culan & Markus, 1987) and something that should be used sparingly (Parks, 1996). Current research has even concluded to some that CMC’s technological advancements will impact human relationships in the negative and create conflicts that could leak into the everyday FTF interactions (Williams, 2008). Although there is plenty of past and current research holding to the negative impact of CMC on relationships, recent studies looking at the interpersonal effects of cyber talk have found that it is not as negative as perhaps once speculated (Flaherty, Pearce, & Rubin 1998; Boyd &

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Ellison 2007). Research has even found it to be beneficial. For...
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