ORIENTATION : Students’ membership and participation in social networking sites, such as
Facebook, has increased in recent years.
RESEARCH PURPOSE : The study examined students’ access to social network sites and compared
male and female students’ usage of Facebook with regards to time commitment, privacy
concerns, and the creation and/or maintenance of relationships.
MOTIVATION: The study adds to the existing academic literature on this topic by providing a
South African perspective.
RESEARCH DESIGN, APPROACH AND METHOD : Two-hundred self-administered questionnaires
were distributed using convenience sampling. The statistical analysis that was used included
Mann-Whitney U-test, t-test and ANOVA analysis.
MAIN FINDINGS: Students connect to social networking sites everyday primarily via their
mobile phones. Female students reported spending more time on Facebook whilst at the
same time expressing more concern for their privacy. Moreover, students were found to use
Facebook to maintain existing offline friendships more so than creating new relationships. MANAGERIAL IMPLICATIONS : Social networking sites such as Facebook play an important
role in students’ everyday interpersonal communication. Practically, Facebook provides
lecturers, parents and businesses the opportunity to communicate with students in a fast
and cost-effective way. Therefore, insight into the variables studied could help marketers
and Social Network Site operators to manage privacy concerns in order to effectively target,
advertise and communicate with students.
CONTRIBUTION : Although past research has concentrated on the study of Facebook in terms of
privacy and members’ uses little research has been conducted on gender differences in this
regard, more so within a South African context. Furthermore demographic variables such as
gender influence motives and behaviour, as such making the analysis demographics essential.