Our current and prior research projects in the field of online communication can best be described by three overarching themes:
1. Uses and Effects of New and Interactive Media
In this line of research, we address the uses and gratifications of a variety of new media such as video and computer games, browser and online games, weblogs, and social network sites. The aim of our work is to distinguish the risks (e.g., “digital stress” or procrastination with media) from the positive outcomes of new media use (e.g., recovery and psychological well-being when using entertaining media).
2. Self-Presentation and Relationship Maintenance in Computer-Mediated Communication
Computer-mediated communication has an unprecedented potential for presenting oneself online and for socially interacting with other users. The research in this field of online communication addresses questions about the authenticity of self-presentation in the social web as well as the risks resulting for users‘ privacy. Moreover, the potentials and limits of online communication as a source of social capital and social support are investigated.
3. Entertainment Research
Digital media such as video games or social network sites confront entertainment research from a communication science perspective with great theoretical challenges. The interactivity of these media frees users from being passive consumers and instead enables them to actively experience completely new ways of media entertainment. This challenges classical entertainment theories that conceptualize users as mere viewers of media narratives. Theoretically and empirically modelling the entertainment experience of using digital media, e.g., for intrinsic need satisfaction, constitutes another focus of our research.