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Development and Validation of Social Media Behavior Scale for Adolescents
Jingyan Lu, Mengguo Jing, Luyao Liang, Jiutong Luo

Last modified: 2017-05-02


Social media refers to a broad range of Internet-based networks and technologies that enable people to perform various online socially-oriented activities. To date social media has gained unparalleled popularity among youngsters around the globe, Hong Kong, is no exception, A 2010 survey revealed that Hong Kong teenagers spent an average of 19.9 hours on social networking sites weekly (Public Opinion Programme of the University of Hong Kong). The inseparable role that social media play in young people’s lives has raised concerns from parents and other stakeholders in the community about its negative impact on students’ social emotional life, also prompting researchers to wonder its potential value in facilitating students’ academic achievement. To answer this question, it is essential that we gain a comprehensive understanding of how young people make use of social media. However, in the current literature, relevant studies fall short in shedding light on this issue, therefore the present study sets out to examine Hong Kong adolescents’ use of social media both in and out of school by constructing and validating a new self-report scale designed to tap into the different dimensions of young people’s social media usage.

The development of the scale used in our study was based on the findings of previous relevant studies and also from the outcome of our qualitative interviews. As opposed to most existing scales that examine people’s social media behavior by regarding it as a unidimensional construct, we differentiate young people’s social media engagement into four subdimensions and place them under different contexts. The dimensions include information consuming, communication, sharing and creating, all of which have been studied by previous researchers as major social media behaviors young people demonstrate constantly. In addition, we placed these behaviors in both inside of outside school contexts for the fact that young people’s social media involvement could vary greatly given the different contexts.

After we have constructed the scale, it was administered to 814 adolescents from four Hong Kong secondary schools to investigate their social media usage. Afterwards the responses given by the adolescents were used to test the validity of the scale. Exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) were applied to the data. We divided the sample into two groups by randomly selecting 50% of cases and assigning them to the EFA group to generate a factor structure. Then this structural model was tested by CFA using the other 50% of the cases to confirm the factor structure derived from the EFA process. In addition, the internal consistency reliability of the factor structure and the sub-factors were examined using Cronbach’s alpha. As a result, EFA produced a four-factor structure consisting totally 17 items for outside school social media behaviors, and a three-factor model containing 10 items for inside school social media behaviors. Both structures were confirmed by CFA as a good fit structure to our data, indicating that our scale is a highly valid instrument in capturing adolescents’ social media usage both in and out of school contexts.