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College students' Twitter usage and psychological well-being from the perspective of generalised trust: comparing changes before and during the COVID-19 pandemic

Shaoyu Ye (Faculty of Library Information and Media Science, University of Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan)
Kevin K.W. Ho (School of Business and Public Administration, University of Guam, Mangilao, Guam, USA)

Library Hi Tech

ISSN: 0737-8831

Article publication date: 25 February 2022

Issue publication date: 18 April 2023

766

Abstract

Purpose

This study investigated the relationship between generalised trust and psychological well-being in college students, considering the social support obtained from their social networks via Twitter and face-to-face (FTF) interactions. Initially, the authors planned to collect data at the beginning of the first semester in 2019 for fine-tuning the model as a pilot study, and in 2020 for the main study. However, due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the data helped authors to analyse changes in young people's psychological situation before and during the pandemic in Japan.

Design/methodology/approach

The study conducted a self-report survey targeting college students in the Kanto region in Japan. Data were collected from mid-May to the end of June 2019, as well as in early to mid-June 2020, with 304 and 584 responses, respectively. The collected data were analysed using structural equation modelling and a multiple regression analysis.

Findings

The findings using the 2019 data set indicated that (a) students mostly used Twitter for information gathering and sharing of hobbies, and they received both informatics and emotional support from Twitter, and from FTF interactions; (b) there were direct positive effects of generalised trust and social skills on their psychological well-being; and (c) students with lower levels of generalised trust tended to interact with very intimate individuals using Twitter to obtain social support, which did not have any effects on their improvement of psychological well-being. From the 2020 data set, the authors also found that, like 2019, generalised trust and social skills had direct effects on the improvement of psychological well-being. Additionally, we observed that students spent more time using Twitter and received more emotional support from it, as most people tried not to meet other people in person due to the first State of Emergency in Japan. Similarly, the authors found that in 2019, only social support from very intimate partners via FTF communication had slightly significant effects on improving their psychological well-being, whereas in 2020, their expectation for social networks via FTF had decreased their levels of psychological well-being, but their social support from Twitter had slightly significant effects on their improvement of psychological well-being. One of the main reasons for this might be due to the challenge of meeting with others in person, and therefore, social support from Twitter partially played a role that traditionally was only beneficial through FTF communication.

Originality/value

We understand that this is one of the few social psychological studies on social media that collected data both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. It provides unique evidence in demonstrating how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed college students communication behaviours.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank all the students who helped answer the surveys and all the people for their kind cooperation.

Funding: This work was partly supported by the Telecommunication Advancement Foundation/Research Survey Grant (principle investigator: Dr. Shaoyu Ye).

Corrigendum: It has come to the attention of the publisher of Library Hi Tech that the following article by Ye, S. and Ho, K.K.W. (2023), “College students' Twitter usage and psychological well-being from the perspective of generalised trust: comparing changes before and during the COVID-19 pandemic”, Library Hi Tech, Vol. 41 No. 1, pp. 152-173. https://doi.org/10.1108/LHT-06-2021-0178, included incorrect layouts in Figures 1, 2 and 3 which made the data difficult to interpret. The correct Figures 1, 2 and 3 have now been published in the online article. The authors sincerely apologise to the readers for any inconvenience caused.

Citation

Ye, S. and Ho, K.K.W. (2023), "College students' Twitter usage and psychological well-being from the perspective of generalised trust: comparing changes before and during the COVID-19 pandemic", Library Hi Tech, Vol. 41 No. 1, pp. 152-173. https://doi.org/10.1108/LHT-06-2021-0178

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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