An Analysis of Social Media Use Among College Students: Examining Social Comparison, Perceived Levels of Social Support, and Loneliness

MaryKate Moriarty


This thesis explored the relationship college students have with social media use and how social media use relates to levels of social support, levels of social comparison, and their feelings of loneliness. An anonymous online survey was distributed to students at a small liberal arts college in New York. The results indicated that students who used social media more often and had higher Social Media scores engaged in higher levels of Social Comparison. Students who reported lower levels of Social Support were more likely to report higher Loneliness scores. A regression analysis indicated that Social Support scores accounted for a significant amount of variance in Loneliness scores. The findings of this thesis support that social comparison occurs when using social media, and social support is not necessarily found while using social media. These findings stress the importance of understanding what drives students to use social media, and the immediate impacts that online social networks may have on their social life and overall well-being. Future research can further explore how social media may generate social support, or reduce social support, adding to the current understanding of loneliness experienced by college students. If students are not receiving social support from social networks, there is a need to understand what other advantages or disadvantages that individuals may have from social media use.