Sharing on Facebook can actually make you smarter!

  • IANS, Washington
  • Updated: Jan 18, 2015 20:45 IST

Sharing news on social media sites like Facebook can help you get on top of it as well as stay connected longer than people who casually read the news and scroll down, says a researcher.

"Sharing and discussing news content on social media sites like Facebook can actually drive greater involvement with news and information," said S Shyam Sundar, professor of communications and co-director of the media effects research laboratory at Pennsylvania State University.

There seems to be growing concern that young people may be becoming more disengaged, particularly from mainstream media sources and be more out-of-touch.

For this, the researchers studied whether the way Facebook users shared links to news stories with their friends affected how involved they remained with the stories.

A total of 265 active Facebook users with a median of 400 friends each took part in the study.

Researchers monitored the posts as well as the reactions to their posts.

One of the main findings of this study is that engagement in news stories through social media requires discussion with friends on the site.

Increased involvement depends on valuable feedback from friends.

"Feedback from friends appears to drive the connection," said Anne Oeldorf-Hirsch, assistant professor of communication from University of Connecticut.

How users perceive the feedback is also important.

Simply receiving likes or superficial comments from a lot of friends is not sufficient.

"Feedback ought to be perceived as relevant, thoughtful and engaging, in order to make Facebook users feel like they are involved in the story and influential in their network," Sundar said.

By sharing news of interest to their friends and engaging them, the users reap the benefits of greater interest and involvement in that content themselves.

"Those sharing stories also gain a sense of influence which could drive them to become opinion leaders in their networks," the authors said.

Users who asked questions rather than ones who just posted the material or made a statement about the content significantly increased involvement with the information, according to the researchers.

The findings were detailed in an upcoming issue of the journal Computers in Human Behaviour.

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