The influence of purpose-of-use on information overload in online social networking

(1) Mission San Jose High School, Fremont, California, (2) Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
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In recent years, information consumption has accelerated as novel social media networking platforms continue to increasingly permeate daily life. Though these means of communication have been incredibly beneficial in terms of addressing accessibility to information, news, and long-distance social connectivity, they have also brought with them multiple other problems. One such drawback is the risk of increased sensory and information overload. Although previous literature has found evidence of a link between social media use and overload, there is little work exploring the intention-related dimensions of social media use and their relationship with experiences of overload. In this work, we administered a short survey to investigate whether different participant purposes for using social media were related to social media fatigue and/or overload. Using various linear models, we examined whether our hypothesized demographic including age range and/or predictor variables such as purpose of using social media could significantly predict experiences of overload online. Our results surprisingly suggest that certain dimensions of social media assumed to be predictors of overload-like experiences, such as the amount of screen time on social media, may not be related to overload-like experiences. We found that purpose of use does not predict the frequency of reported overload-like experiences. The implications of our work for the broader understanding of information overload is discussed and future directions of research are offered.

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