A. Grigoriou

Cyprus University of Technology (CYPRUS)
Online Social Networks attract more and more people every day. The most famous and popular social network is Facebook. Through obtaining an account in Facebook a person is able to create his own space and have his own personal audience. This is called 'Friends' in Facebook. What do students believe about the people they add to that list? What groups do they create according to their interpersonal relationships in their everyday lives? How does the contact occurs between the student and every group of people? Why are the online social networks of students much larger than their social networks in real life? These questions were answered through qualitative and quantitative research focusing on students of the Cyprus University of Technology (C.U.T.). Data sources included online and paper-based questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. 339 students started the questionnaire but only 292 students completed it. The response rate of students was 16.2%. The confidence level of results of the questionnaire was 96% with a margin of error of 5.5%. The results showed that the undergraduate student of C.U.T. is connected to Facebook for a long period of time. Social capital is a network of people who are connected with strong or weak ties. The students create four groups of the people who are in their list on Facebook. The largest group is the social network of the individual. Depending on the relations between the student and each group can be characterized as bridging (relaxed) or bonding (strong). As mentioned in the results the number of people with whom the student maintains a strong relationship is very small compared with the 'friends' who have in their profile. By analysing the results, it was found that when someone has 200 friends two to nine are the closest, 10 to 90 are known and more than 90 are complete strangers. The student feels a need to increase its social capital by including even unknown people in that list. The reasons vary and they are described in detail in the paper. The paper has implications for students on social networking and directions for future research.

Research in this field focused on the term of friendship in social network, and the reasons why a person adds friends to his list. However, no studies exist that a student can use categorization to separate his friends depending on their mediated interpersonal relationships.