Review Paper | Motive of Social Media Usage Among Students

9. 23. 2021

The review article on the motives of social media usage among students showed different opinions and findings from primary research. The aim was to present a coherent argument regarding the phenomena. The author of this article gave insights into the current knowledge of the phenomenon, showed the inconsistencies among the different authors and directions regarding the trend of the results for future research studies. The review has demonstrated that the main motives for social media usage among students include communication, building relationships, seeking information, and entertainment. Available studies have shown that social media has surpassed face-to-face contact as the preferred mode of communication as an alternative to face-to-face conversation. As a result, it has proven to be the ideal alternative communication channel for students and educators to utilize the platform for learning. Today, social media has become the channel through which students can maintain a sense of belonging with relationships while at school. Future research should consider the dimensions identified in this review to investigate the addictive usage of social media among students and the rationale behind current students' behavior toward social media.


The advent of social media has resulted in major changes to lifestyle and communication practices in society. It is evident that the popularity of social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, as well as Twitter, has grown globally and become ingrained in people's lives (Krasnova, Veltri, Eling & Buxmann 2017). In particular, social networking sites (SNSs) have developed into a popular platform for user interaction (Garca-domingo, Aranda & Fuentes 2017). The existence of over 1.5 billion social media users globally, has motivated academics to explore why students utilize this type of technology in their everyday lives (Hashim, Al-Sharqi, & Kutbi, 2016; Pittman, 2017). This is because the young, in particular, is the largest social media consumers, while worldwide addiction continues to grow. Numerous researches have revealed that people utilize social media for a variety of reasons (Subramani 2015). Individuals use SNS for learning, fun, self-discovery, entertainment, preserving interpersonal connectivity, and social presence (Pittman, 2017).

Simultaneously with other psychosocial research, an examination of social media site adoption in the field of education was undertaken. Numerous authors have explored why students use social media (e.g., Kim, Holman, & Gooreau, 2015; Junco, 2015; Asterhan & Rosenberg, 2015). Students are becoming aware of the educational benefits that social media platforms may offer (Hamid, Waycott, Kurnia, & Chang, 2015). Moreover, the introduction of social networks is associated with technological tools that promote cooperative and engaging learning (Al-Kathiri, 2015; Long, 2015), a more supportive learning environment, and group social harmony (Al-Kathiri, 2015).

Manasijevic, Zivkovic, Arsic, and Milosevic (2016) carried out a detailed analysis of the reasons why individuals use Facebook and the inherent value of the networking site. The findings corroborated prior research that highlighted the motives behind social media use (Sharma, Joshi, & Sharma, 2016). The findings confirmed Asiedu and Badu's (2018) assertions regarding educational drives, which identified three reasons: communication, collaboration, and content exchange. On the other hand, Asad, Anam, and Kanwal (2016) used the Users and gratification theory to understand the motives behind the use of social media. They discovered that students use social media for academic purposes, communication, entertainment, health, skill development, interaction, and shopping online. However, until now, research on the motives related to the proliferation of social media has been scattered, and so the available knowledge of their probable interrelationships is still limited. This complicates achieving the comprehensive perspective essential for a deeper understanding of this phenomenon's benefits (Hamid, Waycott, Kurnia, & Chang, 2015).

Social media use

From the conception of social networks as widely utilized by students, it is critical to recognize their potential for improvement and uncover the elements that contribute to their success. Hence, integrative studies are necessary to examine the motivations for using social networks among students (Manasijevic et al., 2016).

The rationale of the Review

The study reviewed articles on social media intending to synthesize findings from several primary research studies to provide a coherent argument regarding the motives for social media usage among students. It will help through insights into the current knowledge of the phenomenon, identify inconsistencies in previous results, and provide directions for further research studies.

Overview of Social Media

Social media is a comparatively modern concept that has grown to refer to a variety of internet communication platforms. Generally, social media refers to any technology that enables the broadcast and exchange of information on the Web (Mingle and Adams, 2015). More precisely, Ishak, Khairuddin, and Aziz (2020) define social media as "a group of network applications that are built on philosophical and technological principles that enable the exchange and creation of User Media Apps". Web 2.0 refers to the Internet's modification to enable users to create content. Due to a comparatively recent discovery, social media may come under bigger, more established umbrellas (Phua, Jin & Kim, 2017). Information and communications technology is one of the most well-established and studied of these umbrella terms (ICT). ICT encompasses both interactive and non-interactive media, such as interactive whiteboards and offsite video games (Eginli & Tas, 2018).

Web 2.0 is another broad category encompassing social media, which comprises wikis, forums, and forums (Whiting, Williams & Hair, 2019). Web 2.0 places a premium on collaboration through an innovative system of production in which knowledge and expertise are shared, distributed, and built upon. Nevertheless, as smartphones and applications for mobile devices have evolved, many users can use the app to socialize instead of visiting a website. Some of the common social media networks, including Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, can be accessed mostly through websites and apps (Al-Jabri & Roztocki, 2015). Hence, social media is defined as mobile applications and websites that enable users to share information and create content. 

Social media platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook can be used to communicate via videos, text, and pictures to share information with family and friends (van Roy, Deterding & Zaman, 2018). Additionally, social media platforms such as Tumblr, Blogger, Pinterest, Twitter, and Reddit can be used for particular functions such as writing, blogging, and information sharing (Phua, Jin & Kim, 2017). Nonetheless, because most of these social media sites are used interchangeably, they will be explored in more generic terms throughout this article review.

The motive for using social media among Students

Social media is observed to be used by students for numerous motives. Feyisa and Dawit (2018) demonstrate that young people's use of social networks is progressively becoming more pervasive in their everyday lives. The findings indicate that the primary perceived reasons for using social media are for association and recreation. A study by Kaya and Bicen (2016) examines the motivations of students using a sample of 362 students who predominantly use Facebook. The findings indicated that social media is largely used for sharing news, communication, leisure, and video or photo sharing. Another study by Pittman (2017) established that people are using social media for various purposes, including recreation, education, socialization, social presence, entertainment, and interpersonal communications.

The most frequently cited motives for using social media include establishing a relationship, exchanging ideas and information, interacting, and entertaining (Hashim & Kutbi 2015). Aisar, Mohd, and Nur (2015) also mentioned a variety of reasons, including boredom, information seeking, entertainment, exchange, communication, socialization, education, and self-expression. Moreover, Altavilla et al. (2016) contended that recreation is typically motivated by feelings of boredom and loneliness. This was supported by Chantelle (2020), who found that an average of 20% of students experience isolation and acknowledge these feelings as the primary source of frustration. As a result, young people's perceptions of happiness and life fulfillment are highly related to psychological factors of overall well-being (Weinstein, 2018). Facebook, as well as Instagram, for instance, lately introduced a live streaming feature to enables customers to broadcast. Not only does the "start real-time video" feature enable interactive and collaborative participation, but it also allows other users to respond and give feedback on the live stream. That can promote a sense of belonging (Santarossa & Woodruff, 2017). Asad, Anam, and Kanwal (2016) added that youngsters utilize social media for a variety of reasons, including education, job opportunities, entertainment, communication, interaction, health, online shopping, and skill development. On the other hand, Lee and Horsley (2017) discovered that youth use of social media fosters the development of six critical personality traits, including competence, connectedness, trust, compassion, contribution, and character, which serve as the foundation for self-empowerment.

The review above has demonstrated that the motives for social media usage among students include communication, building relationships, seeking information, and entertainment. The introduction of social media has enabled individuals to remain linked regardless of their financial situation or location. The available studies indicate that social media has surpassed face-to-face contact as the preferred mode of communication in the absence of face-to-face conversation. As Schneider et al. (2016) imply, people on social media use them to maintain contact with a close colleague who is not personally visible, mostly to maintain relationships and satisfy a sense of belonging. Thurairaj et al. (2015) emphasized SNSs’ importance with regards to encouraging students to reconnect old colleagues, contacts, classmates, and relatives far away. 

In terms of relationship building, empirical research has demonstrated that social media has an influence on student relationships. Social media platforms provide a cheap and well-organized form of communication (Lin & Utz 2015). When people are no longer physically close to old classmates, family, and communities, social media helps them maintain contact (Ellison & Vitak 2015). Similarly, it has been discovered that interacting via social media helps to preserve a relationship bond (Keung & Chao, 2017).

Social media enables students to seek information. For example, Facebook assists students in connecting and sharing information irrespective of geographical area (Manasijevic et al., 2016). Past research on the motivations for utilizing SNS revealed students mostly use them to develop robust social ties with relations living far away (Lu et al. 2016). Whillans and Chen (2017) emphasized that students who do not live near their family and friends often lose social bonds and relationships. As a result, it becomes preferable to adopt SNS for continuous interaction to develop social ties. In different instances, Hamid et al. (2016) demonstrated that students utilized social media to seek information to aid in their adaptation to new surroundings. According to research conducted by Bridges, Tse, and Srinivasan (2015), youngsters occasionally utilize social media to ask about health issues. Similarly, young people utilize social media to get information about their schooling. Subramani (2015) corroborated this by observing that most students, particularly students, join groups on social media to discuss academic knowledge. As a result, it may be inferred that students utilize social media to connect with one another for academic objectives. Similarly, Masrom et al. (2021) highlighted academic and knowledge-sharing motives for utilizing social media.

Regarding entertainment motivations, research conducted by Binsahl et al. (2015) on the usage of Facebook by teenagers in Saudi Arabia discovered that 60percent of those studied utilized Facebook for amusement purposes. Manasijevic et al. (2016) found that people from many ethnicities and backgrounds use Facebook widely for entertainment reasons on a daily basis. Social media allows users to view, download, and post videos and movies. According to Kaya and Bicen (2016), social media is among the most frequently utilized modes of communication in the world today, with the majority of teens utilizing Facebook for amusement and to share photos, music, and messages. Other researchers discussed how social media serves as a channel for people and musicians to generate clips, films, and photos in order to interact with their audiences or express themselves. Manasijevic et al. (2016) demonstrate how to artistically distribute multimedia videos and graphics on social networks as an alternate learning platform for the school setting in research on Facebook usage. Rousseau et al. (2017) revealed that images are the second most popular medium on Facebook, after videos.


The younger generation is the largest user of social media, as global addiction keeps rising. Individuals utilize social media for a variety of purposes, including education, recreation, self-discovery, entertainment, and social presence. Students are not an exception, as they have become more aware of the educational value of social media platforms. Authors like Feyisa and Dawit (2018) showed that students' use of social media is increasing. Students' utilization of social networks can contribute significantly to their performance. Holistic studies are therefore required to evaluate students' motives for utilizing social media. Social media is a relatively new term that has evolved to encompass a range of online communication channels. Social media is described as those that enable students to exchange information and generate content. Other major motivations of students for utilizing social media are to connect with others and to have fun. Students are also seen using social media for a variety of purposes, including education and entertainment. Social media platforms provide cost-effective and well-organized communication. Students mostly utilize them to establish strong social relationships with distant relatives. Students can also get information via social media, regardless of their geographical location or age. 

Author: Mercy A. Asante


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