This study examined the association between social media use and first-year college students’ academic self-efficacy in two large, research intensive universities in Flanders (N = 513) and the United States (N = 431). Given cultivation and social cognitive theories’ premises that consistent media messages can shape attitudes and beliefs about self and other, perceptions of others’ academic ease (or the perceptions of how difficult it is for peers to do well in college) was included as a mediator. For the U.S., Twitter was directly and indirectly associated with self-efficacy. In the Flanders sample, both Facebook and Twitter had significant direct and indirect effects on self-efficacy. The results’ opposite directionality (e.g., Twitter’s positive direct effect, Facebook’s negative direct effect) suggest the two media operate differently. Contextual differences and theoretical implications for media effects research are discussed along with practical implications for the first-year transition.

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Keywords academic self-efficacy, cultivation theory, Social media, student adjustment
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Journal Communication Quarterly
McNallie, J. (Jenna), Timmermans, E.B.R, Dorrance Hall, E. (Elizabeth), van den Bulck, J, & Wilson, S.R. (Steven R.). (2019). Social media intensity and first-year college students’ academic self-efficacy in Flanders and the United States. Communication Quarterly. doi:10.1080/01463373.2019.1703774