After what seemed like days, months, years, millennia, etc. to comb the internet and academic databases, I finally came across an article that had some empirical data regarding NCAA student athletes and social media. The bad part is this was published a few years ago (2008). Another problem is that for the purposes of the article it grouped all social media outlets together as "Facebook" so it did not break down its data specifically to individual social media sites.
Frank Butts "NCAA ATHLETES AND FACEBOOK"
As with previous articles I have explored, the main focus of this research was to look at how colleges are combatting image problems as well as protecting student athletes from themselves basically from the misuse of Facebook (I'll be like the researcher and just group everything together in this manner). It seems that in all articles I have looked at, the recurring theme is that there is way to much grey area due to the fact the NCAA still (as in February 25, 2011) has not taken a solid stance on its views on social media outlets.
RESEARCH METHODOLOGY: The way the researcher, Frank Butts, approached this was by trying to gain an overall sample of NCAA student athletes that included male and female athletes, along with schools being selected (6 total) ranged from Division I to Division III schools. Butts, obtained his information regarding social networking sites through the use of a survey and promised that all responses would remain anonymous, 522 responses were collected total of those 308 were male and 214 were female.
FINDINGS: Butts determined through analyzation of data that the views of males and female athletes regarding certain aspects of social media sites (personal image projected on Facebook, athletic depts. image, athletes recommended level of how athletic dept should monitor Facebook) differed greatly between the two.
MY TAKE: There are several things that I felt was lacking in Butts research. The first was in regards to his methodology. Not once does Butts list exactly which school were chosen and why, as far as we, the reader, knows, this could merely be a convenience sample taken due to connections that Butts had. Also, though 522 responses were noted, not once does the research mention how many surveys were not completed which I felt would have been interesting to see what the response rate was. As far as the actual results, one area that stood out was that the % of athletes who viewed their image as negative or somewhat negative was around 0-1%. As someone who has read dozens upon dozens of research articles along with philosophy papers, I think it is easy to say that the reason why this number is significantly lower then that of responses that ranged from very positive to neutral is due to the fact that even though these responses remained anonymous, people tend not to view themselves in a negative light. The discussion area also lags behind. One conclusion in particular that Butts reaches is that Div II athletes have lower awareness of self image on Facebook and he states that this is because there is less staff available to help the athletes, however how this conclusion can fathomably be reached is never discussed in details. Though I felt like Butts did try to make an honest attempt at shedding light on how athletes view social media sites, in the end his research seemed to have too many holes in it for me to take it as conclusive.