Sites spur social media use

Alice Yu

art by Shelby Yount
The cellular devices that live in the pockets and palms of students are just as powerful as the computer that runs the Mars Curiosity rover. But students aren’t using their smartphones to connect with outer space; they’re primarily using their cellphones to connect with their peers through social media.
The increase in sharing isn’t a novel concept; already in 2013, 90 percent of internet users used a social networking site.
Now, 92 percent of teens report going online daily and 71 percent of teens use more than one social networking site, according to the Pew Research Center’s social media and technology overview.
But what motivates these social media users to post a snapshot of their day on Instagram, tweet a message on Twitter, or share a link on Facebook?
For senior InHan Kim, the primary reason is for entertainment. His daily social media activity involves retweeting news he finds interesting, like sports scores and updates from the RBHS Bruin Bear, as well as events going on around him.

“I think the No. 1 reason I share is [to] kind of get a sense of what’s going on around me,” Kim said. “If somebody posts a video or photo, I’m kind of in their position right now.””

Reasons that motivate social media sharing include entertainment, self-fulfillment and maintaining relationships, according to an article on
According to Brandon Butcher, an adjunct instructor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, the desire to be aware of world events is also a powerful motivation, in addition to how personalized the social media experience can be.
“Generally, users will engage with and share content on social media to the extent that they find it interesting, entertaining, and/or relevant,” Butcher said. “While there are hundreds of specific reasons why a user may like, comment, retweet, or share an article, video, photo or graphic, they are more likely to engage if it offers them something of value or [it] invites them to participate.”
In junior Amy Gu’s case, her primary reason for sharing is linked to more than one motivator. As an artist, Gu posts an image of her works of art once every two months.
“Because I follow a lot of art accounts, I get a lot of motivation to actually create a nice piece of artwork,” Gu said. “Once I complete that and I feel like there would be some people who actually want to see these things, then I post it.”
But while the updates and graphics that pop up in social media feeds can open networking lanes, users should be aware that these posts aren’t random.
Advertisement exposure from all forms of media — including television, radio and internet — can range anywhere from 250 to over 3000 seen per day, according to the Huffington Post.
“Social networks like Facebook tailor ads to users based on that user’s previous activity on the site,” Butcher said. “Over time, an individual may limit exposure to diverse sources of information because she is only seeing what she wants to see, or what Facebook thinks she wants to see.”
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