Facebook Identity: Virtual Interaction and Life Satisfaction

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Virginia Tech

Objectives. Social Networking Sites (SNSs) have exploded in popularity around the world and are composed of hundreds of millions of users. SNSs give the ability to communicate, share photos, send files, and update personal information instantaneously and continuously. Research is now being done on these sites to determine their usefulness and study whether or not its existence can enhance learning and the lives of people. The purpose of this study is to examine whether or not Facebook use has an effect on life satisfaction through Facebook identity salience and Facebook role enactment. Methods. Using data acquired at the University of Texas at Austin, this research uses a path model to identity relationships between Facebook use and life satisfaction. Results. My research finds that identity theory can be applied to learning the effect Facebook use has on life satisfaction. Overall, greater Facebook identity salience and more Facebook friends are associated with greater life satisfaction. We also find that for females, the more time spent on Facebook, the lower the reported life satisfaction. Conclusion. My research has demonstrated that identity theory can be used to examine roles that are voluntary and not highly central to one's overall life functioning. The model designed can be used as a blueprint to examine other roles relating to social media. My hope is that future research looks at the importance of the social media roles for younger generations and how they compare to older generations with more salient roles.

identity theory, facebook, social media, sociology, online interaction, life satisfaction