This study investigates social media dependency relations among Chinese college students during their three-month study abroad sojourn in the United States. Data were collected using a multimethod approach of ethnography, field observation, and in-depth interviews. Inspired by the lens of media system dependency (MSD) theory, the analysis focuses on the diverse goals and motivations that drive student behavior in social media engagement, as well as various contextual factors leading students to adapt and transition to the U.S. social networking sites (SNS), and the subsequent outcomes. The findings indicate that task-driven and assignment-centered goals dominate social media use, and that multidimensional aspects of interaction pervade student engagement with different social networking applications. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed in light of the overall findings.

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Published in International Journal of Communication, v. 13, p. 2556-2574.

Copyright © 2019 (Zixue Tai, Jue Lu, and Fengbin Hu).

Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives License (by-nc-nd).

Available at http://ijoc.org.