Instant messaging social networks: Individual, relational, and cultural characteristics

Gustavo S. Mesch, Ilan Talmud, Anabel Quan-Haase

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Most research on social media tends to focus on individual or group-level characteristics, neglecting to consider the influence of relational and cultural variables. To fill this void, we collected social network data in Israel (N = 492) and Canada (N = 293) to investigate the effect of individual, relational, and cultural variables on the frequency of communication via instant messaging (IM) and the multiplexity of communication topics. We found that geographic distance continues to matter in interpersonal contact in spite of heavy reliance on digital tools for connectivity. Similar patterns of association were discerned in both countries for propinquity, the use of IM, and closeness. We discuss the findings in terms of theories of networked individualism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)736-759
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • Computer-mediated communication
  • instant messaging
  • online ties
  • relationship maintenance
  • relationship types
  • social networks
  • student life
  • youth communication

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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