Social network site use, social capital, and acculturation : a comparative study of Facebook and Renren.com use by Chinese international students in the United States
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Facebook is the dominant SNS for American students in the United States, and Renren.com is heavily used by Chinese students in China. Chinese international students in the United States are likely to use both the host and home SNSs to keep in touch with their friends in the host and home countries. The purpose of the study is to explore the similarities and differences between host and home SNS use among Chinese international students in the U.S. This study compares their use of Facebook and Renren.com with respect to intensity and patterns of use. It explores how these student sojourners in the U.S. use the two SNSs to build up and maintain their social networks and social capital and how their levels of acculturation to American host culture and maintenance of Chinese home culture are associated with their SNS use. Quantitative data collected through a survey of 212 Chinese international students at the University of Texas at Austin was analyzed to address these research questions. The findings suggest that Chinese international students use Renren.com more intensively than Facebook and prefer Renren.com to Facebook for the purposes of communication and information seeking. They are more likely to use Renren.com than Facebook to interact with Chinese friends whether in the U.S., in China, or in other parts of the world. The intensity of Facebook and Renren.com use were found to be positively associated with bridging social capital, but neither of the two is associated with bonding social capital. Only the intensity of Renren.com use was found to have a positive relationship with maintained social capital. Furthermore, the levels of acculturation to host culture are associated with the intensity of Facebook use, while the levels of maintenance to home culture are associated with the intensity of Renren.com use.
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