Journalism professor publishes findings of “Facebook vacations” study
Communication Research Reports, a scholarly journal of communications-based empirical articles, recently published the research of School of Journalism and Mass Communication (JMC) Assistant Professor Chance York.
York worked with California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, Assistant Professor Jason Turcotte, Ph.D., to discover why Facebook users take voluntary temporary leaves of absence from Facebook.
Initially inspired by a Pew research study stating 61 percent of all Facebook users reported temporary discontinuing using Facebook, York wanted to discover why the social media users behaved this way.
“I thought, ‘Why would anyone intentionally abandon an innovation such as Facebook, only to immediately re-adopt it? Why would anyone leave Facebook only to intentionally return to it later?’” York said.
York assumed people were leaving Facebook because they found its content “boring, dramatic, too political, or communication on Facebook was lackluster in some way.” For a majority of those who participated in the study, this was not the case.
“The reasons people gave for giving up Facebook for extended periods of time were unexpected,” York said. “The majority of users who reported temporarily leaving Facebook [32.58 percent] said they discontinued using the site because they viewed it as a burden on their time.”
Traditionally, scholars have shown that users discontinue innovations like Facebook when they're dissatisfied with the content or move on to other, better technologies. York and Turcotte's paper suggests existing theory, such as Diffusion of Innovations Theory, does not address temporary 'vacationing' from technologies “motivated by a time-based burden on one's cognitive or social resources.”
“Bottom line: Most users temporarily leave Facebook because it's perceived as a time-based, information overload or social burden,” York said. “That's a pretty interesting finding to me, because I can't really think of another innovation that is temporarily abandoned because it is eating large amounts of a user's time. Maybe video games, but that's really it.”
York received his doctorate degree in mass communication from Louisiana State University in 2014. His research interests include political communication and media socialization; social media is only a secondary research interest, but he hopes to further explore it.
“This paper is really the first step in exploring this phenomenon,” York said. “I'd be interested to probe the content-based motivations people provide for why they give up Facebook […] I think it's intriguing.”
Read Professor York’s research here.