Using Social Media to Educate for Social Development: A Collective Case Study Comparing Facebook and E-mail as Tools for Developing Sustainable Habits in Urban Families

ID: 53570 Type: Full Paper
  1. Michel Leger and Shawn Martin, Université de Moncton, Canada

Tuesday, October 16 2:15-2:45 PM Location: Las Vegas Ballroom 6 View on map

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Abstract: Adopting sustainable household lifestyles represents a difficult challenge for families. This mixed methods collective case study looks to explore the adoption of ecological actions in urban families, a context of socioecological transformation rarely examined in social science and environmental education. Taking into account the popular use of social media today, this study seeks to understand the potential role of Facebook in promoting environmental action. In other words, for families who are already intent on living sustainably, could the use of social media help bridge the gap between intent and action? To answer this question, we recruited 45 families from two cities and divided them into two distinct groups. The first group of families attempted to lower their household electrical bill as part of a private Facebook group, while the other aimed to do the same, but without the directed use of social media. For both groups, we compared the quantity of kilowatt-hours used during the project to those used for the same months in the previous year, adjusting for temperature variations. Both groups showed lower electricity consumption. We also conducted exit interviews to help explain these results and better understand the processes of ecocitizenship development in the context of family. Our qualitative results suggest that family engagement and child participation can be higher the families looking to live more sustainably as part of a social network like Facebook.

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