Date of Degree

9-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Liberal Studies

Advisor

Joan Greenbaum

Abstract

My study analyzed the extent to which physical environments and social media sites may be used by people in similar ways. The following research question was asked: “Can concepts associated with physical environments be applied to social media sites?” Three additional research questions developed throughout my study: (i) Do students become attached to social media sites in ways similar to physical environments? (ii) How do students communicate and portray themselves across social media sites? (iii) How do students shape their social groups differently across social media sites? My methods included a two phase approach. The first phase was two months long and required respondents to take surveys via the online website Survey Monkey. The second phase was conducted through seven in-depth thirty minute interviews with respondents who granted permission to contact them. Similar to research on how people interact with physical environments, my findings revealed that users become attached to social media sites, present themselves differently across social media sites, and integrate with different groups across social media sites. There were two significant limitations to my study: sample size and the restricted nature of the questions. Despite the limitations, the research reported here could be considered a viable pilot study for analyzing how social media users relate to the places or sites they visit on a regular basis.

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