An Investigation of Facebook Usage by University Students in Saudi Arabia

  • Shuaa Aljasir

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Compared with face-to-face communication, Facebook use may provide opportunities for greater interaction in a relatively uncensored environment. This research aimed to critically investigate how Saudi university students are using these opportunities. It employs a theoretical framework drawn from uses and gratifications theory, social penetration theory, and social role theory.

    A mixed methods approach was used over three sequential phases. The research began with a quantitative questionnaire completed by 372 Saudi university students to investigate the gratifications they obtained from using Facebook and to identify a typology of Facebook users. This was followed by thematic and quantitative content analyses of profiles of a sub-sample of 50 students to explore the status updates they generated and the types of information they disclosed. To investigate in greater depth the themes that emerged from the previous phases, a final qualitative interview was conducted with 20 of the students.

    The results revealed that, Saudi students used Facebook as a virtual space within which they engaged in several activities. It allowed for cross-cultural and cross-gender communication. Facebook also enabled them to be citizen journalists, sharing, discussing, and analysing current affairs. They as well used Facebook to defend their religious beliefs and advocate Islamic values. Saudi university students showed that they are willing to jeopardise the privacy of their personal information to maximise the rewards they obtain from using Facebook as long as these rewards outweigh the expected costs from such disclosure. Despite belonging to a gender-segregated society, analysis of gender differences conducted across all three research phases revealed that the gap between genders in their Facebook usage is narrower than in offline settings.
    Date of Award2015
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorAndree Woodcock (Supervisor) & Sandra Harrison (Supervisor)

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