The Use of Social Media by Military Personnel and their Families

Principal Investigator

Professor David Denney

Research Institution

Royal Holloway University of London

Project Summary

Social media has become central to military communications. The project entitled The Use of Social Media by Military Personnel and their Families aims to understand the perception and usage of social media in the military to generate new knowledge of the value of social media to the Ministry of Defence, the individual forces, serving personnel and their families as well as the wider academic community. As an interdisciplinary study, the project combined focus groups, interviews, online surveys and network analysis across the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force and the Army in the United Kingdom and overseas.

Preliminary findings from the project have exposed a number weaknesses and vulnerabilities in relation to the use of social media within the military. There is evidence of personnel across the Armed Forces engaging in risky online behaviours, bypassing official protocols and discovering alternative ways of connecting and communicating through social media. The research has revealed social media technologies to be critical to the military experience and it has demonstrated that most personnel as well as their families are ‘digital by default’. Facebook in particular has emerged as an essential tool for maintaining relationships during overseas deployment, hence becoming a key coping mechanism for families during separation.

Impact

The project is expected to inform the development of social media training and education programmes and guidelines for military personnel and families to encourage responsible social media use across the Armed Forces. The project is ongoing until November 2015.

Contact Information

For further information email Professor Denney at D.Denney@rhul.ac.uk