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Adolescents' reasons to unfriend on Facebook

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

This study is the first to examine adolescents' reasons for unfriending people on Facebook. By means of open-end questions, 419 participants described the primary online (i.e., arising from friends' behavior on Facebook) or offline (i.e., emerging from Facebook friends' offline behavior) reason for which they recently unfriended someone. Two researchers took part in the coding process. Qualitative analyses revealed that unfriending happened mainly for online reasons, such as posting (too much) inappropriate, polarizing, or uninteresting posts; seeking attention, bragging, or stalking; and other irritating behaviors (e.g., using bad grammar). Some adolescents indicated that they unfriended people because of online reasons related to replacing friendships or interests, quarrels, and incompatible friends/family. In previous studies among adults, quarrels and incompatible friends/family were reported solely as offline reasons. These findings suggest that adolescents potentially argue more often online or that their quarrel is so intense it leads to unfriending decisions. Adults in turn, also unfriend people because of posts related to everyday life (e.g., jobs and children). Such everyday life events seemed to be less relevant for adolescents' unfriending. The practical value of this study is that it provides a typology of adolescents' online and offline reasons for unfriending. This typology can be used for further research or by practitioners developing awareness campaigns as it indicates which behavior/events mostly provoke unfriending. Although viewing a post as inappropriate or polarizing might be subjective, general guidelines on how to respectfully address sensitive issues (e.g., political, religious, or other societal issues) can be given.
Journal: Cyberpsychology, behavior, and social networking
ISSN: 2152-2715
Volume: 21
Pages: 603 - 610
Publication year:2018
Keywords:A1 Journal article
BOF-publication weight:1
CSS-citation score:1
Authors from:Higher Education