Risks and motivation in the use of social network sites: an empirical study of university students
Social Network Sites (SNS) such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Piniterest and Google+ have made it easy for youth to communicate, produce and share information. Using SNS has become a daily activity for many youth and young adults around the world, including South Africa. The use of SNS by youth may be motivated by needs for safety, belonging, self-esteem and self-actualization, and others such as enjoyment. Yet, the use of SNS by youth may also carry a number of risks. They include risks to violations of privacy, social and psychological risks that may harm the user’s self-image, as well as time and financial risks resulting from excessive SNS usage. The purpose of this study is to understand the tension between risks and motivation in the use of SNS by university students. To do so, this study developed an extended Technology Acceptance Model (TAM). Multi-dimensional risk and motivation constructs were examined for their interactions with TAM constructs of perceived ease of use and perceive usefulness and their effects on SNS usage intentions and actual usage were examined. To test the model, a non-probability convenience sampling method was adopted using students from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. Five hundred and fifteen students participated in the study. The ages ranged between 18 and 34 years, 26% males and 74% females took part in the study, and included students from 1st year through to 4th year undergraduate or Honours level. Facebook was found to be the most used SNS. Approximately 80% of respondents reported accessing SNS on their mobile phones and 66% reported being always connected. More than 25% of respondents were actively using SNS for more than 3 hours a day, with 35% using less than one hour per day. Interestingly, only 35% reported having public profiles although 10% did not know whether their profiles were public or private, and nearly 40% of respondents knew less than half the “friends” they were connected to on SNS Partial least squares approach to structured equation modelling was used to test the hypothesised research model. Results showed that motivation influences perceived usefulness (β=0.239, p<0.001) and perceived ease of use (β=0.319, p<0.001) positively. The results suggest that when motivations such as enjoyment and need to belong are high, SNS will be perceived as useful and easy to use. Risk was found to have a negative influence on perceived usefulness (β=-0.0764, p<0.05) and perceived ease of use (β=-0.3265, p<0.001). The results show that when risks are considered high, users are likely to increase their vigilance and consequently will report SNS as less easy to use. Moreover, as a result of risk users may find the SNS less useful. Perceived usefulness (β=0.295, p<0.001) influences intention to use SNS positively. This suggests that when SNS is useful to users, they will have intentions to use it. Intention to use SNS is also influenced by perceived ease of use (β=0.0396, p<0.01). An easy to use SNS will make users want to use it, as opposed to one considered more complex and requiring more effort. Motivation (β=0.281, p<0.001) was found to have more of an effect than risk (β=-0.071, p<0.05) on intentions to use. Respondents thus appear to recognize some risks associated with SNS use, but they appear to be driven more by motivations and less by risk avoidance when deciding on SNS usage. The study will have implications for researchers, SNS providers and users. The results of the study have implications for how researchers conceptualize risk and motivation. The study shows how different dimensions of risk and dimensions of motivation affect the overall risk and overall motivation construct respectively. Currently SNS providers may not have deep understanding of the risks which hinder the use of SNS and motivations which drive the use of SNS. Providers will be better informed to design SNS that are less risky and where possible mitigate the risks. Results also show that SNS providers should not only mitigate risks but also provide online social networks that better fulfil motivational needs of youth. Users will be aware of different risks they are exposing themselves to by using SNS. Since users will be aware of the different types of risks, they can be vigilante when using SNS.
DISSERTATION SUBMITTED IN FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF COMMERCE IN INFORMATION SYSTEMS TO THE FACULTY OF COMMERCE, LAW AND MANAGEMENT UNIVERSITY OF THE WITWATERSRAND, JOHANNESBURG FEBRUARY 2015
Nkwe, Nugi (2016) Risks and motivation in the use of social network sites: an empirical study of university students, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, <http://wiredspace.wits.ac.za/handle/10539/22124>