Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Online social networks, Interpersonal relations in young adults, Social networking sites, Interpersonal relationships, Young adults, Development, Maintenance


The present study sought to learn about the ways in which young adults who are avid social networking site users (SNS) build and maintain interpersonal relationships given the ways in which social media shapes how young adults connect. This research explored how experiences via SNS such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Tinder played a role in one's online and offline relationships. Inclusion criteria included being between the ages of 18 and 30, being an English speaker, logging onto SNS at least 10 times per day, and being able to speak in person or on the phone for one hour. With a sample of twelve young adults, the majority of participants identified as Caucasian, 9, and female, 9, with a mean age of 24.3. The study concluded that the majority of participants' relationships with friends originated offline via in-person encounters. Offline relationships were strengthened due to online SNS activity due to SNS's ability to connect long distance friends and family members, post photos online that increased offline engagement, reinforce positive aspects of offline relationships, and deepen one's personal development offline. Participants also noted the ways in which SNS adversely impacted their relationships offline, including trust, embarrassment, and exclusion. The findings also showed a gender-specific pattern, revealing that all three male participants used SNS as a tool for developing businesses; the women never spoke about using SNS to assist in the development of a business but, rather, spoke only about using it exclusively as a social environment and tool.




iv, 93 pages : color illustration. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, 2014. Includes bibliographical references (pages 75-80)