Journal of Development and Communication Studies

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‘Last seen now’: Explaining teenage identities and social capital on social network sites in Kenya

Geoffrey Serede Sikolia, Hellen K. Mberia


This article sought to address the gap in empirical research related to personal identity and social capital as gratification factors motivating teenage engagement on Social Network Sites (SNSs) in Kenya. We employed a mixed method research design in which Self-administered Questionnaires, Focus Group Discussions and In-depth Interviews were used in data collection. Participants were drawn from a sample of (n = 481) respondents from two sub-counties of Nairobi County. We focused on five popular SNSs namely, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest. Findings revealed that personal identity and social capital significantly influenced teenagers’ engagement on SNSs. Specifically, high school teenagers’ engagement on SNSs was motivated by the need to bridge and maintain social capital more than bonding. We conclude that social network sites engagements among teenagers need to be harnessed for positive outcomes. Equally, we recommend positive use of SNSs in behavior change campaigns targeting teenagers.

Keywords: Social Network Sites, Personal identity, Social capital, Uses and Gratifications, Teenagers

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