Does social networking displace study habits and media use of college students?

29 04 2011

Erlan D. Pasana
BS Development Communication 2011 Thesis
Visayas State University

Students and social media. Photo credit: Febelle Dareen Rojas (VSU)

As one of the media of communication, social networking plays an important role in people’s lives. Its usage may vary from one person to another depending on the benefits that this medium can provide for them. For students specifically, social networking serves as their channel to express their thoughts and feelings about a certain issue. It helps them in building up stronger relationships with their loved ones especially those who are living far away from them. It makes them more vigilant about the happenings in different places by getting news from their friends on the Internet. Most importantly, while it entertains them, it also helps them in doing research (Hargittai, 2007).

Yet some university administrations perceive students’ social networking activities as detrimental to students’ academics and have blocked sites such as Facebook during office hours. But does social networking take away the time that students ought to spend on their study time and media use? This study aimed to find out Visayas State University (VSU) college students’ uses and motivations for social networking use and their effect on study habits and media use. Using a survey, time diary and a focus group discussion, this study was conducted among 116 randomly selected college students.

Time Diary

All respondents who participated in the survey were given a time diary on which they were to record their study hours, media use and time spent in using social networking sites for two weeks. Out of 116 respondents who participated in the survey, only 62 percent of them returned their time diaries. A total of 72 time diaries were analyzed.

Respondent profile. Close to two-thirds (64.7%) of the respondents were female while the remaining 35.3% were male. Respondents’ ages ranged from 16 to 28 with a mean of 18.85. A little more than one-fifth (20.7%) of the respondents were enrolled in BS Hotel Restaurant and Tourism Management (BSHRTM), followed by more than a tenth (12.9%) who were enrolled in both Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) and Bachelor of Secondary Education (BSED) .

Respondents’ Motivations for Social Networking Use

The motivations that were measured in this study were categorized adopting Katz, Gurevich and Haas’ motivation framework (1973), as follows:

  • Cognitive needs (acquiring information, knowledge or understanding)
    – Information sharing
    – Entertainment
    – Social interaction
  • Affective needs (emotional, pleasurable, or aesthetic experience)
    – Companionship
    – Self expression
  • Personal integrative needs (strengthening credibility, confidence and stability)
    – Pass time
    – Relaxation
    – Functionality
    – Usability
    – Technical sustainability and flexibility
    – Cool and new technology
  • Social integrative needs (strengthening contact with family and friends)
    – Maintaining relationship
    – Meeting new people
  • Tension release needs (related to escape in terms of distancing from social roles)
    – Escape

Displacement effects on study habits

When asked about the effect of social networking use on their study time duration (in hours), more than three-fifths (69%) of the respondents indicated that it stayed the same, while exactly a fourth (25%) of them reported a decrease. The remaining 6 percent of them expressed that their time in studying increased because of social networking use. Since more than two-thirds (69%) of the respondents indicated that their hours spent in studying did not decrease, it appears that social networking use did not have a displacement effect on respondents’ study habits.

Displacement effects on media use

Overall, 11.2 percent of the respondents reported an increase in time spent on other media as a result of social networking use, (46.6%) reported that their time spent on the six media activities stayed the same while more than two-fifths (42.2%) of the respondents answered that the time they spent on other media decreased because of social networking use.

Displacement effects on media-related activities

Of the six media-related activities, only reading newspaper (56.9%) and using landline telephone (55.2%) decreased since the respondents started using social networking sites. In contrast, social networking use did not displace the time spent on the other media activities. Table 1 shows the effects of social networking use on time spent on the six media activities.

Table 1. Changes in amount of time spent on media use as a result of social networking use

Watching television 17.2 44.8 37.9
Texting on your mobile phone 19.0 51.7 29.3
Reading newspaper 6.0 37.1 56.9
Reading books 11.2 58.6 30.2
Using the landline telephone 2.6 42.2 55.2
Listening to radio 16.4 45.7 37.9

In general, results of the time diary and focus group discussions were consistent with the results of the survey.

Implications of the study

Results of this study show that respondents are highly motivated to use social networking sites. Of the five categories of motivations identified by Katz, Gurevich and Haas, only tension release needs had low ratings because most of the respondents were not motivated to use social networking sites to fulfill tension release needs. However, the remaining four categories showed acceptable ratings.

Respondents’ social networking usage did not displace their time spent for watching television, texting on mobile phone, reading books, and listening to radio. On the other hand, newspaper reading and landline telephone use were displaced due to social networking usage. Results support the studies on functional displacement, which state that a new medium will displace or replace an existing medium when it can fulfill the same function or provide more that can satisfy users’ wants (Neuman, 1998).

Although in general, motivations was not associated with displacement effects on study habits, a significant relationship was found between cognitive motivations and displacement effects on study habits. This suggests that motivated people who use social networking to fulfill cognitive needs to acquire information, knowledge and understanding are more likely displace their study time duration. In terms of social networking use and displacement effects on study habits, a significant difference was found between male and female respondents, with females reporting higher networking usage than males. This supports the previous study that teen girls are more likely to use social networking and posted online profile than boys (Lenhart & Madden, 2007).


Hargittai, E. (2007). Whose space? Differences among users and non-users of social network sites. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1), 4-11. Retrieved July 10, 2010 from

Katz, Elihu, Blumler, Jay G. & Gurevitch, Michael. 1973. Uses and gratifications research. The Public Opinion Quarterly, 37, (4): 509-523.

Lenhart, A. & Madden, M. (2007). Teens, privacy & online social networks: how teens manage their online identities and personal information in the age of myspace. Retrieved August 20, 2010, from:

Neuman, S. (1998). The displacement effect: Assessing the relation between television viewing and reading performance. Reading Research Quarterly, 23(4), 414-440.



13 responses

24 06 2011

Can we use your study as reference for our research?

24 06 2011

Marie, sure you can use it provided that you cite the reference.

11 07 2011

hi! can we use your study as one of our reference on our research? your positive response would be greatly appreciated!🙂

12 07 2011

Erica, sure you can cite it as reference for your research, provided that you attribute the source, otherwise it will be an infringement of intellectual property rights.

24 08 2011

marian greeting!
can we use ur study as one of our references mam? am looking forward for ur positive response. thank you.

25 08 2011

Rogie, sure you can use what’s posted in Devcompage as one of your references, provided that you cite the source.

4 10 2011

helo mam…can i use this research as an reference for my research proposal…hoping for your immediate response,,thanks!

8 10 2011

Reslie, yes you can use it as reference provided that you cite the source of the material.

20 10 2011
Aris Mengote

thanks a lot!!!! i could really use it to my research.. =)
you’re really helpful… keep it up!!!!

11 11 2011
Julie Ann Villagracia

Hi. Our current study is relevant on yours, can i have this as our reference?

11 11 2011

Julie Ann, sure you can use the study as your reference, provided that you cite the author of the study. Good luck.

25 02 2014

i am currently doing my proposal study for my masters degree… and i find your study so useful in my study… can i use it? thanks and more power:-)

3 03 2016
Nikko Sacopanio

hi can i use this as our reference because it can go a long way

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