Online social networking: is that where you get your social support?
Online social networking (e.g., Facebook), has become a significant part of many individual’s lives as a way to communicate with friends or family members and to express emotions. The purpose of this study was to consider the impact that online social networking could have on the types of interactions individuals engage in and how satisfied they are with their current level of social support. Respondents consisted of 130 students at California State University, Stanislaus. The Social Support Questionnaire was used to examine levels of perceived and received support. The researcher examined whether participants would report having more perceived support (greater number of friends) when they exclusively consider their indirect contact (i.e., Facebook friends), in comparison to when participants exclusively consider their direct contact (face-to-face contact). This study also examined whether participants would report having more received support (higher rating of satisfaction) when exclusively considering their direct contact, in comparison to when participants exclusively consider their indirect contact. Participants perceived more social support from individuals with whom they typically engaged in direct interactions, rather than individuals with whom they primarily communicated with via Facebook. Furthermore, participants reported receiving social support at a higher level of satisfaction through direct interactions than through indirect interactions. These results suggest that individuals are not using Facebook as a replacement for direct interactions, but rather as possibly only an extension of direct contact.