Monthly Archives: March 2014

Giving up Twitter for Lent: How and Why We Take Breaks from Social Media

This research explores whether Twitter users who tweeted that they were giving up Twitter for Lent actually did so. It investigates why people look to take breaks from social media and what the underlying concerns they have are.

To what extent are social media users able to manage their own social media use?

  • 64% of users who expressed intent to give up Twitter for Lent on Twitter successfully did so
  • Among the remaining 36%, 13.3% (or 5% of the total group) only tweeted one or two times during the Lenten period

Twitter users hedge about taking breaks, meaning that they talk about taking a break on Twitter but don’t expression intention to actually do so
In a weak moment I thought about giving up twitter and facebook for lent but I’m not strong enough #goodluck
I don’t know how people are giving up twitter for lent #addicted
I thought about giving up Twitter for #lent until I realized the first thing I want to do about this decision is tweet it. #irony
Thought about giving up Twitter for lent, but then I thought… Jesus didn’t give up on his followers. So I won’t #BitchesBePreachin’
I was thinking about giving up twitter for lent.. But I don’t think it’s physically possible for me to go a day without tweeting.

Hedging Word Tree "I was" Hedging Word Tree "I thought"

What factors drive social media users to consider taking breaks from social media?

  • Spending too much time on social media
  • Tradeoffs of not spending time elsewhere
  • Social media versus “real life”

Data

  • Tweets: 3 years of tweets from users who tweeted about giving up Twitter for Lent and their subsequent behavior
  • Interviews: Interviews with 12 social media users recruited from craigslist

Limitations
It is difficult to interpret intention from tweets. Interviewing users who had tweeted about giving up Twitter soon after they tweeted this would help us to better understand their intentions. Recruiting interview participants from craigslist produces a biased sample.

For more details, please read the full paper

Schoenebeck, S.Y. (2014). “Giving up Twitter for Lent: How and Why We Take Breaks from Social Media.” In Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’14). Toronto, Canada. April 26-May 1, 2014.

How Parents of Children with Special Needs Use Social Media

This research explored how parents of children with special needs use social media.

Parents join two types of online groups:

  • case-based groups for shared interests (e.g. ADHD, autism)
  • geographically-based groups for local interests (e.g. local school policies)

Parents feel more judged offline than online:
Parents of children with special needs find offline interactions (with family, strangers, friends and colleagues, teachers, coaches, etc.) more judgmental than online interactions (on Facebook, Yahoo! Groups, etc.)

Among parents who use Facebook:

  • 40% frequently post statuses about their child with special needs
  • 34% frequently post photos of their child with special needs
  • About 30% post articles, campaigns, or medical information

Parents perceive some kinds of Facebooking about children with special needs to be more appropriate than other kinds

  • Parents perceive Facebook statuses containing humor to be more appropriate than Facebook statuses containing judgment or violence
  • Parents perceive posts to Facebook groups about achievement to be more appropriate than posts about alternative treatments or social comparisons.

Why it Matters
About 1 in 6 children are diagnosed with some kind of special need in the United States every year. Receiving these diagnoses can be emotionally and economically demanding for the child, their siblings, and their parents. Understanding where parents find information and social support online and to what extent they experience judgment and social stigma offline and online can help us design social media sites to better support their needs.

Data Sources

  • Interviews with 18 parents of children with special needs recruited via convenience sampling and snowball sampling
  • Surveys with 205 parents of children with special needs recruited via nationally representative sampling

Limitations
Results are biased towards parents who are willing to participate in an interview or complete a survey. They may be more likely to be involved in their children’s needs and may be more likely to be active in special needs causes. They are also subject to self-report biases.

For more details, please read the full paper

Ammari, T., Morris, M.R., Schoenebeck, S.Y. (2014). “Accessing Social Support and Overcoming Judgment on Social Media among Parents of Children with Special Needs..” In AAAI International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media 2014 (ICWSM ’14). Ann Arbor, MI, June 1-4, 2014.

This research was approved by University of Michigan’s Institutional Review Board HUM00074842.