The Structure and Characteristics of Adolescents' Motivation in Micro-Blog Use

The Structure and Characteristics of Adolescents' Motivation in Micro-Blog Use

Li Lei (Department of Psychology, Renmin University of China, Beijing, China & School of Psychology, Central China Normal University, Wuhan, China), Xing Tan (Department of Psychology, Renmin University of China, Beijing, China) and Wei Wang (Department of Psychology, Renmin University of China, Beijing, China)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/ijcbpl.2014040106
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Abstract

The present study aims to clarify the structure of adolescents' motivations in micro-blog use and develop the corresponding scale. The results show that: (1) Adolescents' motivation in using micro-blog contains 14 items which can be classified into four dimensions, namely Show-Extrication, Convenience-Communication, Information-Sociality, and Leisure-Expression. The scale is of good reliability and validity; (2) Girls' motivation is significantly higher than boys' in the dimensions of Show-Extrication, Convenience-Communication, and Information-Sociality, and in terms of Information-Sociality, the motivation of the second-year high school students are significantly higher than that of the first-year and third-year high school students.
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Introduction

With the rapid development of computer and Internet technology, internet has become an important platform for people's everyday life. According to the statistics of China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), by the end of December 2012, the number of China's Internet users had hit 564 million, and the total number of micro-blog users has reached 309 million, among which 25.1% users are students. What’s more, “the Seventh China Internet Community Development Survey Report in 2011 ” released in October 2012 showed that in 2011, micro-blog users accounted for 78.2% Internet users, which fully indicates its popularity . In fact, China has become the world's superpower in terms of its micro-blog users.

Micro-blog is an emerging platform for information dissemination; users can immediately release, access, and share information resources. In addition, “Micro-blog Media Features and User Usage Report” which published in 2010 summarized the five characteristics of the “we media” micro-blog,namely: used by everyone, grouped by interest, personalized by character, used with pleasure, spread by wish. These characteristics of micro-blog make it popular, and they are also the underlying causes of viral spread of information.

From the view of users’ purpose and motivation, the main reasons of using micro-blog are that it is easy for use, convenient for information acquisition and dissemination. But adolescents’ micro-blog using has distinctive characteristics of their age. A survey of micro-bloggers (Wang, 2010), found that young adults’ motivations of using micro-blog include emotional motivation (e.g. to express their joy or vent anger), informational motivation (get new information to understand the topic of concern), social motivation (including understand trends of friends and relatives, keep in touch with friends to promote exchanges and enhance self-image, etc.) and expression recording motivation (micro-blog diversification and its convenience for use). Liu (2011) identified nine types of micro-blog using motivation: forwarding and sharing, following the focuses, obtaining and recording useful information, maintaining existing relationship, entertaining, fashion, substitution and social enhancement. These nine types of motivations could be classified into three categories -- informational motivation, recording and entertaining motivation, and social motivation.

A survey conducted by Hargittai and Litt (2011) among young U.S. Twitter users’ showed that, Twitter users’ subjects of concerns included, in the descending order, entertainment and celebrity news, local/national news, international news, career guidance, job search techniques and latest games.

Besides, users' gender, age and other demographic factors also have important implications in micro-blog use. Zhang and Pentina (2012) found that women mainly provide help and information to others through micro-blog, while micro-blog users between 26 and 30 years old pay more attention to the predictable factors in micro-blogging. Wang (2010) also found that male and female students were different in micro-blog using time, frequency and level of participation. Male users’ using frequency was generally higher than female, and their durations of use tend to be longer. They were also more active as they updated their micro-blog more frequently, participated in topic discussions more actively, and launched more new topics.

Previous micro-blog research focused on journalism, communications, computer technology and other fields, including investigations of its media properties and user characteristics. Although researchers advocated conducting studies to examine how the micro-blog using impacts social and individual development from a multidisciplinary and multi-perspective view, most of existing studies were confined to descriptive studies. However, only a few studies analyzed the impact of micro-blog using on individual development from a psychological point of view. For example, Liu (2011) studied the use of micro-blog’s interpersonal communication motivation and behavior on the impact of self-identity; Huo and Chen (2012) introduced the micro-blog study into psychology research areas for college students building self-image in micro-blog virtual environment, but it is in essence still a research based on the theory of journalism and ideological perspective. To the best of our knowledge, few studied in the field of micro-blog using were empirical studies conducted from the psychological point of view.

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