Lock Haven University professor Rey Junco has published new findings that time spent on on Facebook is positively related to involvement in campus activities.
In an upcoming paper on Facebook engagement, Junco shares the results of research relating Facebook usage and activities to outcomes.
Using hierarchical linear regression (N = 2,368) with gender, ethnicity, and parental education level as control variables, I found that time spent on Facebook was a significant positive predictor of time spent in campus activities.
Although time spent on Facebook was a significant positive predictor, it wasn’t the strongest predictor of time spent in campus activities. In fact, it was the weakest predictor. The strongest positive predictors, in order of strength (with strongest first), were:
1. Creating or RSVPing to events on Facebook
3. Viewing Photos
4. Average time spent on Facebook per day
There were also negative predictors of time spent in campus activities. In order of strength, they were:
1. Posting photos
2. Checking up on friends (or what students call “stalking,” “creeping,” or “lurking”)
3. Playing games on Facebook
It’s an interesting data point, although it’s just part of a larger body of work that’s giving us insight into how our our offline lives are connected to our online lives. The new research does provide a specific example of how the social side of the Internet is increasing its importance in civil society.
Increased campus involvement in activities is not on the same order of civic engagement as toppling an autocratic government or exposing systemic corruption. That said, this research does give us more insight into how the role of the Internet as a platform for collective action could be extended to local government by citizens that are active on social networks, in terms of awareness of town halls, public hearings on notices or, this time of year, ice cream socials.