Effects of Social Media Use Intensity on Ethnic Cultural Identity among Chinese International Students in Malaysia


  • Wenwen Zhao Modern Language and Communication, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Selangor, 43400, MALAYSIA
  • Mohd Nizam Osman Modern Language and Communication, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Selangor, 43400, MALAYSIA
  • Siti Zobidah Omar UCSI University, 56000 Kuala Lumpur, MALAYSIA
  • Hani Salwah Yaakup Modern Language and Communication, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Selangor, 43400, MALAYSIA




Social media use intensity, social media use purpose, ethnic cultural identity, Chinese students, Malaysia


Social media is playing an increasingly important role in the daily lives of international students. A cross-sectional survey of 151 Chinese students studying in Malaysia, aimed to explore the relationship between social media usage intensity and ethnic cultural identity considering the mediating effect of social media use purpose (informational usage, social entertainment usage, and acculturation usage). SPSS and Regression PROCESS macro was applied to analyze the data. The findings show that social media use intensity positively predicts ethnic cultural identity, and also significantly influences informational usage, social entertainment usage, and acculturation usage after controlling demographic variables. In addition, informational usage and acculturation usage positively predict ethnic cultural identity while social entertainment usage is not. Among social media use purposes, only acculturation usage partially mediates the relationship between social media use intensity and ethnic cultural identity. These empirical findings enrich the understanding of the impact of social media usage on ethnic cultural identity in a cross-cultural environment. The limitations and implications of this research are also discussed.


Download data is not yet available.


Baran, S. J., & Davis, D. K. (2000). Mass communication theory. Cengage Learning.

Berry, J. W. (2004). Fundamental psychological processes in intercultural relations. In D. Landis, J. Bennett, & M. Bennett (Eds.), Handbook of intercultural training, (3rd ed.) (pp. 166–184). Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Cortes, D. E., Rogler, L. H., & Malgady, R. G. (1994). Biculturality among Puerto Rican adults in the United States. American Journal of Community Psychology, 22, 707–721. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02506900

Dalisay, F. (2012). Media use and acculturation of new immigrants in the United States. Communication Research Reports, 29(2), 148–160. https://doi.org/10.1080/08824096.2012.667774

Diehl, W. C., & Prins, E. (2008). Unintended outcomes in Second Life: Intercultural literacy and cultural identity in a virtual world. Language and Intercultural Communication, 8(2), 101–118. https://doi.org/10.1080/14708470802139619

Du, X., & Lin, S. (2019). Social media usage, acculturation, and psychological well-being: a study with Chinese in New Zealand. International Communication of Chinese Culture, 6(3), 231–245. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40636-019-00160-2

Dugard, P., Todman, J., & Staines, H. (2010). Approaching multivariate analysis: A practical introduction (2nd ed.). London: Routledge

Ellison, N. B., Steinfield, C., & Lampe, C. (2007). The benefits of Facebook ‘‘friends: Social capital and college students’ use of online social network sites. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12(4), 1143–1168.

http://doi.org/ 10.1111/j.1083-6101.2007.00367. x.

EMGS. (2021). International Student New Applications Received from 1st January 2021- 31st December 2021 . https://educationmalaysia.gov.my/statistics-applications-received-from-1st-january-2021-31st-december-2021/

Elwick A. (2014). An awareness of neuroscience in education: can learning about the brain transform pupils’ motivation to learn. CfBT Education Trus.1-24

Gamsakhurdia, V. (2018). Adaptation in a dialogical perspective—From acculturation to pro culturation. Culture and Psychology, 24(4), 545–559. https://doi.org/10.1177/1354067X18791977

Gebregergis, W. T., Huang, F., & Hong, J. (2020). The impact of emotional intelligence on depression among international students studying in China: The mediating effect of acculturative stress. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 79(8), 82–93. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijintrel.2020.08.008

Guo, Y., Li, Y., & Ito, N. (2014). Exploring the predicted effect of social networking site use on perceived social capital and psychological well-being of Chinese international students in Japan. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 17(1), 52–58. https://doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2012.0537

Hao, X. (2007). Review of the book media and the Chinese diaspora: Community, communications and commerce. China Quarterly, 189, 220–222. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0305741006001160

Hayes, A. F. (2013). Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis. A regression-based approach. NY: The Guilford Press.

Hunsinger, R.P. (2006). Culture and cultural identity in intercultural technical communication. Technical Communication Quarterly, 15 (1), 31-48. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15427625tcq1501_4

Huck, S. (2012). Reading statistics and research (6th ed.). Boston: Pearson Education Inc.

Hughes, D.J., Rowe, M., Batey, M. & Lee, A. (2012). A tale of two sites: twitter vs Facebook and the personality predictors of social media usage. Computers in Human Behavior, 28(2), 561-569.

Hwang, B., & He, Z. (1999). Media uses and acculturation among Chinese immigrants in the USA: A uses and gratification approach. International Communication Gazette, 61, 5-22. https://doi.org/10.1177/0016549299061001001

Ibold, H. (2010). Disjuncture 2.0: Youth, Internet use and cultural identity in Bishkek. Central Asian Survey, 29(4), 521–535. https://doi.org/10.1080/02634937.2010.537135

Jiang, Y., & de Bruijn, O. (2014). Facebook helps: a case study of cross-cultural social networking and social capital. Information Communication and Society, 17(6), 732–749. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2013.830636

Lau, W. (2017). Effects of social media usage and social media multitasking on the academic performance of university students. Computer Human Behavior. 68, 286-291. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2016.11.043

Lee, C. S., & Ma, L. (2012). News sharing in social media: The effect of gratifications and prior experience. Computers in Human Behavior, 28(2), 331–339. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2011.10.002

Li, C. (2014). A tale of two social networking sites: How the use of Facebook and Renren influences Chinese consumers’ attitudes toward product packages with different cultural symbols. Computers in Human Behavior, 45, 204-212.

Li, C., & Tsai, W. H. S. (2015). Social media usage and acculturation: A test with Hispanics in the U.S. Computers in Human Behavior, 45, 204–212. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2014.12.018

Li, C., & Liu, J. (2017). Effects of using social networking sites in different languages: Does Spanish or English make a difference? Computers in Human Behavior, 74, 257–264. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2017.04.031

Liu, Q., Shao, Z. & Fan, W. (2018). The impact of users’ sense of belonging on social media habit formation: empirical evidence from social networking and microblogging websites in China. International Journal of Information Management. 8(5). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijinfomgt.2018.08.005

Luo, M.M., Chea, S. & Chen, J.S. (2011). Web-based information service adoption: a comparison of the motivational model and the uses and gratifications theory. Decision Support Systems, 51(1), 21-30. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dss.2010.11.015

Ma. Y. (2017). The impact of social media use motives on psychological and sociocultural adjustment of international students. Open Access Master's Theses. Paper 1037. https://digitalcommons.uri.edu/theses/1037

Mao, Y., & Qian, Y. (2015). Facebook use and acculturation: The case of overseas Chinese professionals in western countries. International Journal of Communication, 9(1), 2467-2486.

Mezzich, J. E., Ruiperez, M. A., Yoon, G., Liu, J., & Zapata-Vega, M. I. (2009).

Measuring cultural identity: Validation of a modified Cortes, Rogler and Malgady bicultural scale in three ethnic groups in New York. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, 33(3), 451–472.


Moon, S., & Park, C. Y. (2007). Media effects on acculturation and biculturalism: A case study of Korean immigrants in Los Angeles’ Koreatown. Mass Communication and Society, 10(3), 319–343. https://doi.org/10.1080/15205430701407330

Ni, X., Shao, X., Geng, Y., Qu, R., Niu, G., & Wang, Y. (2020). Development of the Social Media Engagement Scale for Adolescents. Frontiers in Psychology, 11(4), 1-7. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00701

Pang. H. (2018). How does time spend on WeChat bolster subjective well-being through social integration and social capital? Telematics and Informatics, 35(8), 2147-2156. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tele.2018.07.015

Park, L. (2016). WeChat Red Bags: How international students from China use social media while attending a public university in California. (Education 0249), UCLA.

Retrieved from http://www.escholarship.org/uc/item/55v3195g

Park, N., Song, H., & Lee, K. M. (2014). Social networking sites and other media use, acculturation stress, and psychological well-being among East Asian college students in the United States. Computers in Human Behavior, 36, 138–146. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2014.03.037

Phinney, J. S. (2003). Ethnic identity and acculturation. In K. M. Chun., P. Balls-Organista, & G. Marin (Eds.), Acculturation: Advances in theory, measurement, and applied research (pp. 63,82). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Phua.J., & S. Jin A. A. (2011). Finding a home away from home: The use of social networking sites by Asia-Pacific students in the United States for bridging and bonding social capital. Asian Journal of Communication, 21(5), 504–519. https://doi.org/10.1080/01292986.2011.587015

Qiu, L., Lin, H., & Leung, A. K. Y. (2013). Cultural differences and switching of in-group sharing behavior between an American (Facebook) and a Chinese (Renren) social networking site. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 44(1), 106–121. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022022111434597

Rui, J. R., & Wang, H. (2015). Social network sites and international students’ cross-cultural adaptation. Computers in Human Behavior, 49, 400–411. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2015.03.041

Ryder, A., Alden, L. E., & Paulhus, D. L. (2000). Is acculturation unidimensional or bidimensional? A head-to-head comparison in the prediction of personality, self-identity, and adjustment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79,49–65. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.79.1.49

Sawyer, R., & Chen, G.-M. (2012). The impact of social media on intercultural adaptation. Intercultural Communication Studies, XXI (2), 151-169.

Setia. (2016). Methodology Series Module 3: Cross-sectional studies. India Journal of Dermatology, 61(3), 261-264. https://doi.org10.4103/0019-5154.182410

Shafaei, A., Razak, N. A., & Nejati, M. (2016). Integrating two cultures successfully: Factors influencing acculturation attitude of international postgraduate students in Malaysia. Journal of Research in International Education, 15(2), 137–154. https://doi.org/10.1177/1475240916653566

Shuter, R. (2012). Intercultural new media studies: The next frontier in intercultural communication. Journal of Intercultural Communication Research, 41(3):219-237. https://doi.org/10.1080/17475759.2012.728761

Smith, T. B., & Silva, L. (2011). Ethnic identity and personal well-being of people of color: A meta-analysis. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 58, 42-60. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0021528

Terry, L. (2011). International initiatives that facilitate global mobility in higher education. Michigan State Law Review, 1: 305–356

UNESCO. (2019). Education: Outbound internationally mobile students by host region. https://. Data.uis.unesco.org. Retrieved 4 March 2020.

Wang, E. S. T. (2010). Internet usage purposes and gender differences in the effects of perceived utilitarian and hedonic value. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 13(2), 179–183. https://doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2009.0200

Wang, G, Zhang. W., & R. Zeng. (2019). WeChat use intensity and social support: The moderating effect of motivators for WeChat use. Computers in Human Behavior, 91, 244-251. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2018.10.010.

Wang, Y., & Sun, S. (2009). Examining Chinese students’ internet use and cross-cultural adaptation: Does loneliness speak much? Asian Journal of Communication, 19(1), 80–96. https://doi.org/10.1080/01292980802618494

Wen, Z., Geng, X., & Ye, Y. (2016). Does the use of WeChat lead to subjective well-being? The effect of use intensity and motivations. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 19(10), 587-592. https://doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2016.0154

Whiting, A., & Williams, D. (2013). Why people use social media: a uses and gratifications approach. Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, 16(4), 362–369. https://doi.org/10.1108/QMR-06-2013-0041

Wilkin, H. A., Katz, V. S., & Ball-Rokeach, S. J. (2009). The role of family interaction in new immigrant Latino’s civic engagement. Journal of Communication, 59, 387–406. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.2009.01421.x

Yang, C. (2018). US-based social media use and American life: A study of Chinese students’ acculturation and adaptation in America. Global Media and China, 3(2), 75–91. https://doi.org/10.1177/2059436418783765

Yang. C, Huaiting, W., Ma, Z., Brian. G, & Southwell. (2004). Turning in to fit in? Acculturation and media use among Chinese students in the United States, Asian Journal of Communication, 14(1):81-94. https://doi.org/10.1080/01292980420001951512

Yin, H. (2015). Chinese-language Cyberspace, homeland media and ethnic media: A contested space for being Chinese. New Media and Society, 17(4), 556–572. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444813505363

Yoon, E., Chang, C. T., Kim, S., Clawson, A., Cleary, S. E., Hansen, M., & Gomes, A. (2012). A meta-analysis of acculturation/enculturation and mental health. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 60, 1-16. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0030652

Yu, Q., Foroudi, P., & Gupta, S. (2019). Far apart yet close by: Social media and acculturation among international students in the UK. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 145, 493–502. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.techfore.2018.09.




How to Cite

Zhao, W., Osman, M. N., Omar, S. Z., & Yaakup, H. S. (2022). Effects of Social Media Use Intensity on Ethnic Cultural Identity among Chinese International Students in Malaysia. ICCCM Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities, 1(6), 37–52. https://doi.org/10.53797/icccmjssh.v1i6.6.2022




Most read articles by the same author(s)