No we don’t have WiFi. Talk to each other: Understanding the dynamics of computer-mediated communication and its impact on well-being

Maile, Andrew (2015-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2015

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT : Computer-mediated communication (CMC) has expanded into an everyday phenomenon whose influence in the way individuals communicate with one another and behave in various social contexts is increasingly being noted. Interest in understanding this phenomenon better is increasing in prominence. With the advancement of mobile phones from tools for basic communication, to devices that allow one to do anything previously limited to Internet enabled computers; these mobile smart-phones and other CMC devices have become the ultimate personal resource for communication and entertainment, allowing access anywhere and at anytime. Although research into this phenomenon is fairly substantial, an understanding of the complexity and dynamics of the use of this media technology, and the social and psychological elements that drive its use, are limited. The youth are especially acknowledged for embracing the varied functions and social interaction capabilities afforded by CMC. University students are identified as a cohort of particular interest in this regard, due to various factors such as an emphasis on social integration, identity and relationship development, independence, and academic expectations. As such, this thesis sought to explore the lived experiences of university students in relation to the use of CMC in their daily lives. A particular focus of this study was consideration of the link between CMC and the importance of social identification in the university context. A qualitative design was utilised, and 15 students from Stellenbosch University were selected from a combination of purposive and snowball sampling methods. These 15 students, aged between 18 and 25, from various academic disciplines were interviewed using a semi-structured method. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was employed in analysing the semi-structured interviews, and in generating the emergent themes. After careful considerations of various theoretical frameworks, the Social Identity Theory (SIT) were identified as a useful theoretical framework through which the interpretation of the findings could be contextualised; and links with the existing literature were established. Herein it was highlighted that the students perceived notions of normative behaviour, and social expectations regarding use of CMC and their identity as a member of the student body, informed many of their practices and social interactions. Central to the adherence of these socially derived norms was a desire to fulfil the fundamental need to belong and to feel accepted in their social context. Students indicated an internal struggle with the temptation and appeal of using CMC; and in fulfilling academic obligations and engaging in their present surroundings. Highlighted among the appealing aspects of CMC, was its utilisation for selective self-presentation, impression management, maintaining and communicating desired relationships, and the safety it offers in challenging social situations.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Rekenaar-gemedieerde kommunikasie (RGK) het uitgebrei na ‘n alledaagse fenomeen waarvan die invloed waarop individue met mekaar kommunikeer in verskeie sosiale kontekste toenemend opgemerk word. Belangstelling om hierdie fenomeen beter te verstaan is toenemend prominent. Met die ontwikkeling van mobiele fone vanaf ‘n hulpmiddel vir basiese kommunikasie na ‘n toestel wat ‘n mens daartoe in staat stel om enigiets te doen wat voorheen beperk was tot rekenaars met Internet toegang; hierdie mobiele slimfone en ander RGK het die verkose persoonlike hulpbron vir kommunikasie en vermaak geword, wat toegang enige plek op enige tyd moontlik maak. Hoewel daar redelik baie navorsing op hierdie gebied gedoen is, is die begrip van die kompleksiteit en dinamiek van die gebruik van hierdie media tegnologie, en die sosiale en psigiese elemente wat die gebruik daarvan aandryf, beperk. Die jeug word veral herken aan hul aanvaarding van die verskeie funksies en sosiale interaksie vermoëns van RGK. Universiteitstudente word geïdentifiseer as ‘n kohort van spesifieke belangstelling hiermee as gevolg van verskeie faktore soos ‘n klem op sosiale integrasie, identiteit en verhouding ontwikkeling, onafhanklikheid, en akademiese verwagtinge. Hierdie tesis poog om die belewenis van universiteitsstudente in verhouding met die gebruik van RGK in hul daaglikse lewens te ondersoek. ‘n Spesifieke fokus van die studie het die skakel tussen RGK en die belangrikheid van sosiale indentifikasie in die unversiteitskonteks in ondersoek. ‘n Kwalitatiewe ontwerp is gebruik en 15 studente van Stellenbosch Universiteit is geselekteer deur gebruik te maak van ‘n kombinasie van doelgerigte en sneeubal selektering metodes. Semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude is met hierdie 15 studente, tussen die ouderdom van 18 en 25, van verskeie akademiese dissiplines gevoer. Interpretatiewe fenomenologiese Analise (IFA) is gebruik om die semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude te analiseer en om die ontluikende temas te genereer. Na deeglike oorweging van verskeie teoretiese raamwerke is die Sosiale Identiteits Teorie (SIT) identifiseer as ‘n bruikbare teoretiese raamwerk waardeur die interpretasie van die bevindinge gekontekstualiseer kan word; en skakels met die bestaande literatuur is vasgestel. Hiermee is dit beklemtoom dat die studente neigings van normatiewe gedrag en sosiale verwagtinge na aanleiding van die gebruik van RGK en hul identiteit as ‘n lid van die studente liggaam gesien het as grondslag van baie van hul praktyke en sosiale interaksies. Sentraal tot die nakoming van hierdie sosiaal verrykende norme was die begeerte om te voldoen aan die fundamentele behoefte om te behoort en om aanvaar te voel in hul sosiale konteks. Studente het aangedui dat interne struwelinge met die versoeking en aanloklikheid van die gebruik van RGK, en die voldoening van akademiese verpligtinge en omgang met hul onmiddellige omgewing. Van die aanloklike aspekte van RGK wat beklemtoon is sluit in, die gebruik daarvan vir selektiewe self-voorstelling, indruk bestuur, instandhouding en kommunikasie van gewensde verhoudings, en die veiligheid wat dit bied in uitdagende sosiale situasies.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/97932
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