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Two tests of social displacement through social media use

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The present manuscript presents two tests of the hypothesis that social media use decreases social interaction, leading to decreased well-being. Study 1 used the Longitudinal Study of American Youth (N = 2774), which is a national probability sample of Generation X, to test displacement over a three-year time period. Latent change scores were used to test associations among social media adoption in 2009, social media use in 2011, direct contact frequency across years, in relation to change in well-being. Although social media adoption in 2009 predicted less social contact in 2011, increased social media use between 2009 and 2011 positively predicted well-being. Study 2 used experience sampling with a combined community and undergraduate sample (N = 116). Participants reported on their social interactions and passive social media use (i.e., excluding chat via social media) five times a day over five days. Results indicate that social media use at prior times of day was not associated with future social interaction with close others or with future face-to-face interaction. Passive social media use at prior times predicted lower future well-being only when alone at prior times. Neither study supported the social displacement hypothesis. Several interpretations of results, including a need-based account of social media use, are examined. The challenges of identifying an appropriate time scale to study social displacement are identified as critical question for future research.
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Keywords: Experience sampling methodology; LSAY; longitudinal methods; social displacement; social media use; well-being

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Communication Studies, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, USA

Publication date: August 24, 2019

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