Social networking sites (SNSs) have become an essential part of our lives. The purpose of this paper is to explore how demographic variables, SNS importance, social and informational usage, and personality traits (extroversion/introversion, openness, neuroticism, internal and external locus of control) can explain participation frequency of the four biggest SNSs in Israel: Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Twitter. Design/methodology/approach: The research was conducted in Israel during the Fall semester of the 2017–2018 academic year and encompassed 244 students. Researchers used six questionnaires to gather data: a demographic questionnaire, a participation frequency questionnaire on four different SNSs, four SNSs importance questionnaire, social and informational usage on four different SNSs questionnaire, personality questionnaire (extroversion, openness and neuroticism) and the locus of control questionnaire. Findings: The findings revealed that different social network sites play distinct roles for various individuals. WhatsApp, the most frequently used platform, is used more by women and people with internal locus of control. Facebook is more frequently used by open people and Instagram is more frequently used by women, younger adults and neurotic people. Twitter is more frequently used by men. In addition, for all SNSs, the higher the social and informational usage is, the more important the SNSs are to the users, which significantly explains participation frequency. Originality/value: The differences between social networks can be evidence that each social network serves a different group and does not compete with other SNSs. This may well explain why many people make use of several social networks and have a tendency to move from one to another. © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited.
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About Prof. Amichai-Hamburger:
Prof. Amichai-Hamburger is the director of the Research Center for Internet Psychology (CIP) at IDC Herzliya. He has taught courses on psychology and the Internet, management and leadership, and creativity in organizations at Israel’s leading universities and served as a senior advisor to the Israeli Ministry of Education. A prolific author, he has received awards from the Library Instruction Round Table of the American Library Association and the Academy of Management for his academic articles. His research interests include personality, Internet use and well-being; virtual teams; inter-group contact on the Internet; leadership and motivation; and conflict management in organizations. His first book, The Social Net, human behavior in cyberspace was published by Oxford University Press 2005 and his second book Technology and Wellbeing is to be published by Cambridge University Press in 2008. Yair has worked with leading scholars from around the world, including his present cooperative projects with the University of Moscow and the University of California. In addition, Yair and the The Bezeq International Research Center for the study of the Psychology of Internet use, represent Israel on the International digital-divide project (twenty-five countries).