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Impact of social media use on critical thinking ability of university students

Li Cheng (School of Public Administration and Communication, Guilin University of Technology, Guilin, China)
Gege Fang (School of Journalism and Communication, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China) (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, National University of Singapore, Singapore)
Xiaoxue Zhang (School of Journalism and Communication, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China)
Yuxiang Lv (School of Journalism and Communication, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China)
Lingxuan Liu (School of Journalism and Communication, Sichuan International Studies University, Chongqing, China)

Library Hi Tech

ISSN: 0737-8831

Article publication date: 10 August 2022

459

Abstract

Purpose

This research aims to discover the relationship between social media usage (SMU) and the critical thinking ability (CTA) of university students, and to answer the question that whether social media dependence (SMD) affects the development of CTA, and thus providing a reference for the social media access strategy of academic libraries from the perspective of media information literacy.

Design/methodology/approach

The research data were collected via 300 valid questionnaires whose respondents are students from three universities in China. Multistage stratified cluster sampling method was used to select the respondents, which guarantees statistical representativeness. A pre-test was conducted to ensure the validity of the questionnaire.

Findings

It is shown that the total score of CTA and the six sub-dimensions are significantly positively correlated with SMU, but strongly negatively correlated with SMD. Based on the mediating effect testing, it is discovered that the degree of SMD can affect the promoting relations between the usage intensity of social media (UISM) and CTA. Clearly, SMU is a double-edged sword. While it narrows the digital gap in terms of accessibility, it widens the digital gap in terms of usage.

Originality/value

The differences in SMU have a significant impact on the development of CTA of university students. This inspires us to consider the ability of “using social media in a balanced way” as an important evaluation and training direction when inquiring media literacy. As social media is becoming a critical channel in cultivating individual's thinking skills, it is highly suggested that the amount of time spent on reading fragmented information on the internet should be controlled.

Keywords

Citation

Cheng, L., Fang, G., Zhang, X., Lv, Y. and Liu, L. (2022), "Impact of social media use on critical thinking ability of university students", Library Hi Tech, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/LHT-11-2021-0393

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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