The study, published in The Journal of Computers in Human Behaviour by Russell Clayton, a Ph.D. student at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, indicated the precursors that lead to Facebook connections with people online, rather than in a more social, public setting.
The study conducted under Randall Osborne, Brian Miller and Crystal Oberle's supervision at Texas State University included a survey of over 225 college freshmen students on their perceived levels of loneliness, anxiousness, alcohol use and marijuana use.
The findings reveal that students who reported higher levels of anxiousness and alcohol use appeared to be more emotionally connected with the social networking site. Also students who reported higher levels of loneliness and anxiousness like to use Facebook as a platform to connect with others.
The alcohol use not only enhances emotional connection with Facebook, but also promotes more alcohol consumption through images and status updates by friends using alcohol, according to the study.
Clayton said that since alcohol use is socially acceptable, increased alcohol use might cause an increase in emotional connectedness to Facebook among college students. The researchers also found that marijuana use predicted the opposite: a lack of emotional connectedness with Facebook.
Explaining the connection between marijuana use and Facebook connectedness, Clayton claimed that Marijuana use is viewed as less normative compared to alcohol use, thus fewer people post images and updates on its use. So, people engaging in marijuana use are less likely to be emotionally attached with Facebook, the study said.
Students who reported high levels of perceived loneliness were not emotionally connected with Facebook, but definitely use it as a tool to connect with others, it added.