An Investigation into the Impact of Ethnicity and Culture on the Motivation for using Facebook for Academics and Socialization in Guam

An Investigation into the Impact of Ethnicity and Culture on the Motivation for using Facebook for Academics and Socialization in Guam

Sathasivam Mathiyalakan (Winston-Salem State University, Winston-Salem, USA), Kevin K.W. Ho (School of Business and Public Administration, University of Guam, Mangilao, Guam), George E. Heilman (Winston-Salem State University, Winston-Salem, USA) and Wai K. Law (University of Guam, Mangilao, Guam)
DOI: 10.4018/IJSSOE.2017100101


As most of the prior research on Facebook use and impact has been conducted within the continental US, there is a need to explore these issues in other countries and cultures. This article conducts this study on Guam, a US unincorporated territory. This article surveys Guamanian college students to investigate the impact of ethnicity and culture on Facebook use for socialization and academics among Chamorros and Filipinos, the two major ethnic groups on Guam. The following notes that Filipinos stay logged on longer per Facebook visit, and have significantly higher scores on Social Maintenance, Academic Outreach, and Hofstede's Individualism-Collectivism and Masculinity-Femininity cultural scales. A step-wise regression analysis showing that Facebook use is related to cultural background indicates that Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions can be used for exploring the use of Facebook for social and academic interactions. This also implies that Facebook can be a suitable tool for engaging students in both social and academic contexts.
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1. Introduction

At Facebook, we build tools to help people connect with the people they want and share what they want, and by doing this we are extending people’s capacity to build and maintain relationships - Zuckerburg, 2012.

Since its launch in 2004, Facebook has experienced continued rapid growth and is now considered the world’s largest social networking site (Statista, 2017). By the end of 2015, Facebook (2015) was reporting more than 1 billion daily active users and more than 1.5 billion monthly active users, and as of April 2017, Facebook has grown to have 1.97 billion active accounts (Statista, 2017). The tremendous volume of users on Facebook has provided a rich venue for studies on a wide range of topics related to their use and users. Examples include relationships between social media and academic major, academic performance and student engagement (Junco, 2012; Mathiyalakan et al., 2014), age (Heilman et al., 2014), culture (Cho & Park, 2013), ethnic issues (Gabre & Kumar, 2012; Grasmuck, Martin & Zhao, 2009; Hargittai, 2008), gender issues (Hargittai, 2008; Junco, Merson & Salter, 2010; Mathiyalakan et al., 2016), identity construction (Boyd & Heer, 2006), value co-creation (See-To & Ho, 2014), etc.

Many prior studies have focused on Facebook use in the US. However, culture can play an important role in adopting technology and in communicating self-descriptive expressions, individuating information and psychological attributes (Bagchi et al., 2003; DeAndrea, Shaw & Levine 2010). Hence, there is a need to explore issues pertaining to Facebook use in countries other than the US and in cultures that are not typical of the US (Alhabash et al., 2012). While other studies have incorporated a cultural element, they have tended to focus on cross-country cultural comparisons. This study, however, assesses differences in ethnicity and culture within one educational setting.

This research was conducted in Guam, which is an unincorporated territory of the US with a population of about 160,000 and an economy driven primarily by US military spending and tourism (Central Intelligence Agency, 2017). As of 2016, it had an Internet penetration rate of over 76% (vs. > 88% for the US) and a Facebook penetration rate of over 61% (vs. > 62% for the US) (Internet World Stats, 2017a & 2017b). The official languages used on Guam are English and Chamorro, even though most people use English as their first language. Chamorro is used in parallel to English in all government official documents, and the study of Chamorro language is required through Kindergarten to Grade 12 in the public-school system. Plus, Tagalog is the commonly used language in the Filipinos community there, which accounts for a quarter of the local population (US Census Bureau, 2011). The investigation intends to gain further insights into the impact of Guamanians’ ethnicity and culture on their use of Facebook for socialization and academics, which acts as a showcase of the importance of understanding the impact of ethnicity and culture on the social media use.

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