Social Networking among Secondary Students

The Christian Research Association is currently undertaking surveys of students in Catholic schools. The surveys seek to discover ‘how students put life together’. Over 3700 students in Years five to twelve, from 24 schools in three dioceses, have completed the survey on-line. Analysis of a number of questions about social networking, that is, the use of on-line programs such as Facebook, Linked-In and Google+, designed to build and reflect social networks, has revealed some
interesting findings among secondary school students.

Young people find their sense of peace and happiness in many different ways. Many spend time with friends or family, many listen to music, watch DVDs or play sport. Some use their creative abilities and paint or do craft, while others get close to nature by going on a bushwalk or down to the beach. For a few young people praying or meditating, or attending church or youth group contributes to happiness. There are also a few young people who drink alcohol or take drugs as they search for peace and happiness. In addition to these activities, some young people see social networking as making a major contribution to happiness. Around 38 per cent of students indicated that using social networking sites was very important in finding a sense of peace and happiness.

When asked how often in the previous 12 months they had used social networking sites (apart from what they did at school), almost three quarters of students stated they had used it often. Frequent use of social networking was higher among females than males (76 per cent compared with 69 per cent). A higher proportion of males than females had never used social networking (13 per cent compared with eight per cent). Table 1 provides further detail.

Using responses from a number of different questions from the survey it is possible to categorise students into social networking “types”: The Convinced Networker, the Frequent Networker, the Positive Networker and the Tentative Networker

The surveys asked several questions about students satisfaction with various aspects of life. In most respects, the different Networking types were little different in their levels of satisfaction. Only in one area were the differences statistically significant: the Convinced Networkers were more satisfied with their friends.

Ask a young person today how many friends they have, and the response they give will no doubt reflect the friends they have face-to-face contact with many times a week, those they see a number of times per month, and perhaps those they catch up with not as regularly. Most young people today will also count “friends” they may never have met, about whom they know very little, and with whom, if they met them in the school yard or other social place, they may have little in common.

For more information see: Pointers, Volume 21, No. 4, Pages 8-11

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