Adolescents' motivation to use social network sites from a psychological needs perspective.

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McLellan, Ros 

INTRODUCTION: Adolescents' social network sites (SNS) use is prominent during the developmental period. Various adolescents' motivations for using  SNS have been reported. However, there is a lack of psychological perspectives in understanding the reasons for adolescents to use SNS. This study explored adolescents' motivation to use SNS, and a comprehensive psychological framework was used to dismantle adolescents' reasons and purposes for using SNS. Adolescents' ways of using SNS were explored to contextualize teens' SNS use. METHODS: Semistructured interviews with 18 Malaysian adolescents (Mage  = 15; 50% female; 10 Malay, 5 Chinese, 1 Indian, 1 Other Bumiputera) were conducted. The qualitative data were collected in 2021 in Malaysia through online video calls. Reflexive thematic analysis was the analytic approach. RESULTS: Six motivations for using SNS were identified: social interaction, content subscription and exploration, emotional support, participation, distraction, and self-expression. Each of the motivations was explicitly linked with different psychological needs. Adolescents were found to use SNS differently in three aspects: deliberate use (i.e., on purpose of use and time spent on SNS), content-selective, and audience-selective. CONCLUSION: This study demonstrates that psychological needs are the psychological reasons for adolescents' motivations for using SNS. Adolescence developmental tasks like strong peer identification and identity explorations are parts of the basic and compound psychological needs. Teens are pursuing a sense of self-coherence by using SNS. Adolescents demonstrated to use SNS differently at being deliberate and selective, which is speculated to be a result of the conflict between reflexive and reflective thought processes during SNS use.


Publication status: Published

Funder: Sarawak Foundation

SNS use, adolescents, motivation to use SNS, psychological needs, Humans, Adolescent, Female, Male, Motivation, Peer Group, Adolescent Behavior, Social Interaction, Social Networking
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J Adolesc
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