The Impact of Social Media on Saudi Female
University Students: A Case Study
Dr. Amani Hamdan
University of Dammam, Saudi Arabia
Social Media….Definition and facts
The Research question
SM and Youth-female university students
Results and Discussion
This study importance is stemmed from:
Social Media revolution is becoming significantly more
effective than any traditional media.
Digital media landscape imposes on the Arab states the
need to think thoroughly of its depth as a source for
freedom of expression and social change.
How can SM affect education?
Youth as leaders of world change
SM affect on educational, cultural, exchange, and social
SM is becoming not only a source of communication but
an engine of education, cultural exchange, and social
change. Brunel University3
Facebook and Twitter in Saudi
Arabia: Numbers Talk
The total number of Facebook users in the Arab world
stands at 45,194,452 (June, 2012), up from 37,390,837 at
the beginning of the year (January 2012), having increased
by about 50% since the same time last year (29,845,871
in end June 2011).
Youth (between the ages of 15 and 29) continue to make
up around 70% of Facebook users in the Arab region, a
number that has been holding steady since April 2011.
Gulf Countries Council dominate the top five Arab
Facebook users as percentage of population.
Saudi Arabia constitutes about a quarter of total
Facebook users in the Arab region (1.6 million new
Facebook users between January and June 2012)
As a result Arabic now is the fastest growing language on
Facebook in the region, with an increase in the number
of Facebook users who predominantly use the Arabic
Saudi Arabia, which leads the Arab countries with
830,291 Twitter users in 2012.
Comes at the 2nd
amongst the top five Arab countries in terms
of number of Twitter users.
88% of tweets in March 2012 were generated by Kuwait,
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain
Arabic tweets numbering almost double those in English
through March 2012 (62.1% and 32.6% respectively)
Amongst top Five Twitter Populations (Sep. 2011 and
March 2012) is Saudi Arabia.
Youth and SM: At Crossroads
Although studies have conceptualized the internet as an
information repository and Young people as knowledge
recipients fewer studies have emphasized youth’s role as
producers (Greenhow, 2011, p. 57).
SM in Saudi – Towards educational, cultural and Societal
SM as a venue through which youth and young women
university students build relationships, exchange ideas
and improve their social integration.
The recent major increase of SM is worthy of further
For example, in the Arab world the number of Facebook
users increased from 37,390,837 in January 2012 to
45,194,452in June 2012 …or by an increase of 20%.
Over the 2 years (June 2010 – June 2012) the number of
Facebook users almost tripled increasing from 16 million to
45 million reflecting the huge interest in SN.
The share of women users in the total has also been on the
rise reflecting the impact that SN could have on a larger
number of female users in the Arab world and SA the subject
of this research.
The number of Arab users is expected to increase rapidly
over the coming few years because of the increase in
internet services and rapid deployment of modern
Facebook registered an increase of 10 million users
between June 2012 – June 2013. In March 2013, Arab
Twitter users generated 3336 million tweets.
About 70% of users are youth between the ages of 15
• What is the affect of SM on female university
students in Saudi Arabia?
• How does SM affect their education, culture,
Why Saudi Female students?
Critical country, age group and gender
Limited scientific data on such age group
Over the past few decades the expansion of Internet use
has dramatically affected the general population.
Now the world is at one’s fingertips and one no longer
has to spend hours searching through reference books in
order to find information.
Technology is step towards betterment, no doubt but
any technology which can provide ease of social
networks can be dangerous for SN addicts.
Previous research has calculated that more than 90% of
college students use SM.
Technology has shown a fast development by producing
small communication devices but these small
communication devices can be used for accessing social
networks any time anywhere, these devices include
pocket computers, laptops, iPads and even simple mobile
phones (which support internet) (Tariq, 2012).
A few research studies discussed the affect of social
media on education.
A recent study by McCamey et al., (2015) investigated
the relationship between Internet use (including the use
of SM), the level of Internet dependency, and academic
performance as measured by self-reported student grade
point average (GPA). Results reveal that there is no
statistically significant relationship between the level of
Internet dependency, the amount of time spent on the
Internet, or the amount of time spent on SM or SN sites
and academic performance as measured by GPA.
Providing ubiquitous facility of social networks is a
straight invitation of addiction to youth, as academic
satisfaction is not enough for those students who suffers
from social isolation.
SN grab the total attention and concentration of the
students and diverts them towards non educational,
unethical and inappropriate actions such as useless
chatting, time killing by random searching and not doing
As SN has introduce many attractive tasks like gamming,
advertisements…so that people can never get enough of
The Sample: The Characteristics of
Age group 18-30
Full-timer and part timers (first year-fourth year)
Different colleges (Business, Health Sciences, Arts,
Engineering, and Interior Design)
Survey 100 students in a SA
university Three dimensions (30 items
Glimpse of the Questions (Likert Scale)
I use SM such as Twitter and Facebook for educational
I use SM to help me do my research
I use SM to exchange ideas about different cultures
I use SM to connect with students in different universities
I use SM to communicate with friends
I network to find out latest in my field of study
I network to have fun and spend time
I network to read celebrity news
Results and discussion
The answers to the main research questions are
The analysis of the data showed that more than 70%
of female students who participated in the study do
agree that SM is useful for cultural exchange, social
change and improvement of communication.
Many participants indicated that SM is more influential in
social change and cultural exchange than in education which
is also indicated in the literature (Greenhow, 2010).
81% of participants agree that social media had an a
negative impact on their education—Reasons
DISTRACTION TO non educational
DISTRACTION TO non ethical
LIVING INSIDE FANATASY WORLD
This finding supports many studies in literature like
(Tariq et al, 2012), (Kuppuswamy et al, 2010) and
The participants were asked to pinpoint the reasons that
prevent them from using SM for Educational purposes.
The first reason that participants (about 37%) indicated is
that they usually get distracted by advertisement of
The other reasons mentioned were lack of sophisticated
or exiting study material, SM is a venue for fun and
connection with others, shortage of time due to heavy
workload, difficulty in finding data in their mother tongue,
and distraction by celebrity news.
The results also indicated that there was no
significant difference between Science and Humanities
However, the results showed that the relationship is
stronger for Science majors (r = 0.42, p < .05) in
using SM for educational purposes than the
Humanities majors (r = 0.31, p < .05).
Further, it was not surprising to find that there was a
significant relationship between the ability of students
to use SM and SN effectively for educational
proposes and their GPA, r = 0.69, p < .05.
This seems obvious because many students, about
63%, indicated that they did not have any training on
how to use online educational discussion, read
research papers in their field.
In addition, about 73% of them did not have
information about how to select the appropriate
databases for education.
Given the importance of SM and that it is becoming part
of youth daily routine, whatever obstacles participants
found that render them from using it for educational
purposes which the findings could be used to solve social
issues and cultural misunderstanding and therefore
benefit the world should be taken seriously by policy
makers, sociologists and educators.
Ministry of Education should encourage and pave the way
to help youth –female students-to use SM and SN
When participants were asked about whether their
universities encourage them to use Twitter and Facebook
to read, collect data or produce research papers, about
68% disagree that universities encourage them.
This may be due to the fact that most universities do not
have their professors or faculty staff set this as a goal to
discuss this with their students, as was reported by 82%
of the participants.
Furthermore, 77% of the participants indicated that
universities do not provide training workshops about
using Facebook or twitter.
In terms of funding research, 75% reported that
universities do not fund any research papers or
workshops around effective use of SM in teaching and
SN obligate a very negative impression people of every age
including teenagers, young adults and adults are continuously
attracted towards SM, SN, international and national
jurisdiction must take action against SN websites.
What is Next
The healthy debate that has dominated policy discourses
for more than two years has finally shifted the question
of the societal impact of social media usage from the “if”
to the “how”, “why” and “what next”
What is next in the AR: female Youth and female in
particular in SA
The need to develop responses that nurture relational
and socially just cultures through SM.
The need to provide training on how best to use SM for
What is Next?
Media literacy course
Critical thinking skills course
Law and jurisdiction for SM use in Saudi Arabia
Tariq et al (2012) study showed that larger than
expected existence of faked identities exist in SM in
Tariq, W., M. Mehboob, et al. (2012). "The Impact of Social Media and Social Networks on
Education and Students of Pakistan." International Journal of Computer Science Issues 9(4):
Social Media in the Arab World: Influencing Societal and Cultural Change? (Electrnoic)(2012).
Dubai: Arab Social Media Report.
Greenhow, C. (2010). Youth as content producers in a niche social network site. New
Directions for youth development, 128(Winter), 55-63.
MCCAMEY, Randy; WILSON, Brooke; SHAW, Joanna. Internet Dependency and Academic
Performance. The Journal of Social Media in Society, [S.l.], v. 4, n. 1, jul. 2015. ISSN
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accessed: 23 Jul. 2015.
Sooryaamoorthy, R. (2011). Communication, youth, social change and... International sociology,
Thank you for listening
Amani K. Hamdan, PhD
AlKhobar, Saudi Arabia