International students’ social media use and social adjustment


  • Hyunjin Seo University of Kansas
  • Ren-Whei Harn University of Kansas
  • Husain Ebrahim University of Kansas
  • José Aldana University of Kansas



social media, social support, social adjustment, international students, higher education


Based on a survey of international students enrolled in a U.S. university, this study examines how social media use is associated with perceived social support and adjustment when demographic and social psychological characteristics are controlled for. Our research shows that level of social media use is positively associated with level of perceived social adjustment but not with level of perceived social support. International students don’t feel comfortable discussing their distress via social media due to complex cultural internetworking present in the online networking sphere. The results of this study indicate that in studying this topic we should take into account both common challenges in getting social support online and special circumstances facing international students. The current study offers scholarly and policy implications for providing relevant social, academic, and professional resources to international students in the United States — a group that has significantly grown in numbers in the past decade.

Author Biography

Hyunjin Seo, University of Kansas

Hyunjin Seo is an associate professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Kansas. Seo has conducted research on how social collaborative networks, facilitated by digital communication technologies, help mobilize movements or address social problems at local, national or international levels. In 2014, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication named her an Emerging Scholar in recognition of her research on social media and social change. In 2013, she was named a Docking Faculty Scholar, an award given to a faculty member who has “distinguished themselves early in their careers at KU.†Her research has received top paper awards at leading conferences and has been published in top-tier journals. 




How to Cite

Seo, H., Harn, R.-W., Ebrahim, H., & Aldana, J. (2016). International students’ social media use and social adjustment. First Monday, 21(11).