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New paper out: Social Network Sites and Digital Youth Culture December 11, 2009

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Academic, Papers, PhD Data, Social network sites, Youth Culture.

I have a new paper out in the latest volume of the journal MedieKultur. The paper is called ‘Social network sites and digital youth culture: When young people practice friendships online (‘Sociale netværkssider og digital ungdomskultur: Når unge praktiserer venskab på nettet’). I regret to say that the paper is in Danish, which will probably discourage some of you from reading it. I can, however, provide you with an English abstract:

During the past few years, hundreds of thousands of Danes have created personal profiles on websites such as Arto, Facebook and MySpace. With the emergence and popularisation of these sites, we have witnessed a new media concept: social network(ing) sites. As is often the case with new media, teenagers have been the first to take social network sites to heart. In this paper I discuss the concept of online social networking and describe how social network sites are used as part of everyday teenage life to maintain social relations. I do this, firstly, by presenting a number of concepts that I consider to be important in relation to young people’s use of social network sites. Secondly, I highlight some results from my own research on 12-18-year-old children and adolescents’ use of various social network sites, including Arto.com, which has been Danish teenagers’ preferred venue on the Internet for a relatively long time. Using empirical examples, I analyse and discuss how social network sites are an integral part of the young users’ friendships and social lives. The article is based on four years of ethnographic studies.

The paper does not really contain any of my newest PhD results (since I wrote it a year ago), but I am using the paper in my dissertation as part of my chapter 3, where I define and frame my research topic.

You can download the paper in a pdf-version here. Also, check out other interesting papers from the volume.

Girls are more preoccupied with photo comments than boys April 29, 2009

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in PhD Data, Photos, Social network sites, Youth.

As regular readers of this blog might know I have a huge body of data in my PhD project. Among the data are 2400 answers to an open-ended questionnaire dealing with the experiences of youth on social network sites. At the moment I am looking at some of the questions that I have not explored so far. (I am using the research software NVivo to code the data along with using SurveyXact for cross tabulation.)

One of the questions deals with how young people feel about the comments they receive on the photos they upload on social network sites . The respondents (12-18 year-old SNS-users) were asked to provide an example of the most recent comment they had gotten on one of their pictures (which is normally a picture of themselves – and the comments most often say that the person looks lovely, hot, beautiful etc. ). As a follow up question the respondents should state who the comment came from (their boy- or girlfriend, their best friend, another friend/acquaintance or someone they didn’t know). After that they were asked what they thought of the comment.

As a preliminary finding the respondents’ answers suggest that there are some gendered differences in how the young people experience the photo comments. It seems that girls are taking much more interest in the comments than boys (or perhaps they are just more articulate when it comes to explaining what the comments mean to them). Typical responses from girls are that they really appreciate when someone comments on their looks in a positive or acknowledging manner. Boys, on the other hand, seem to be slightly more indifferent about the comments they get on their looks.

Based on my other empirical data, I would say that both genders seek the acknowledgement they get from having their looks commented on, but the questionnaire data suggest that  girls are more preoccupied with what kind of comments they get and who they come from. In general, it is very important that the comments come from friends and people they know, rather then strangers. This indicates (and confirms my hypothesis) that photo comments are not just about having ones outer looks valued and acknowledged (identity construction), but also about practising and maintaining friendships.

To illustrate my point, here is one of the typical answers from the questionnaire (translated from Danish):

”Ohh baby<333 you are so beautiful :’D<33 I love you with all of my heart and you are someone really special<333”

[Comment on a picture of a 15 year old girl, who uses Arto and NationX, from a friend].
The 15 year old girl writes:

”I was really pleased and a little bit flattered, because it was a picture of myself 😉 … It is nice when people write these kind of things to you – it means almost as much as if they would say it to you directly.”

An archive of data September 30, 2008

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Academic, Dissertation, Ethnography, Methodology, PhD, PhD Data.

I am working on the methodology chapter for my dissertation at the moment. Here, I am trying to describe all of my data material, which is a rather tricky affair. As you probably know, I have been using various ethnographic approaches in my PhD project. My engagement and ‘zone of identification’ within the field of youth and online social networking in Denmark is quite strong as I have been entangled in the field since 2004 (both as a researcher, a public speaker, a blogger and as “an expert” in the media).

Therefore, I am trying to incorporate the idea of having an ‘archive of data’. The idea comes from Tim Rapley’s book “Doing Conversation, Discourse and Document Analysis“. But where Rapley presents two categories of data, researcher-generated and already existing, I am trying to add a third one: The kind of data that are generated by my own research results.

In this way, my ‘archive of data’ consists of three different types of data material:

  • Data generated by me (such as interviews, open-ended questionnaires, ethnographic observations
    and field rapports)
  • Already existing data (such as newspaper articles about the subject, public debate and discourses etc.)
  • Data generated on the basic of my previous research (such as comments on my blog, reactions on my public talks and articles, newspaper articles with me as a source etc.).

At the moment I am working on building up and describing this archive. One of my main challenges is being able to handle this massive amount of data and to analyse it righteously. But hopefully this division will help me analyse and reflect on my own role as a researcher within the field I am studying.

How much time do Danish youngsters spend on social network sites? February 14, 2008

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in PhD Data, Social networking sites, Survey, Youth.

As promised, I would blog in English about the new survey on Danish young people’s experiences on social network sites. I can start off with something simple; the amount of time that they spend on social network sites.

According to the questionnaire, 30,9 % of the Danish users between the age of 12 and 18 spend more than two hours a day on SNS:

[Respondents’ answers to the question: ”How often do you use communities or social network sites?”]

Please note that these are not average numbers for all Danish teenagers, but reflect the amount of time that users of social network site between the age of 12 and 18 spend on the sites that they themselves consider to be social network sites. In the questionnaire we did not predefine SNS as we wanted the respondents’ take on it. Many of them consider MSN Messenger to be a social network site/community/chat portal as well.

In the category “Other” many of the wrote “All the time” or informed that they spend up to four, five or even ten hours a day on social network sites.

About the survey
The survey was conducted in 2007 together with The Danish Media Council for Children and Young People. It consisted of an online questionnaire with both factual questions about media habits and use as well as questions to which respondents could answer qualitatively. 2400 youngsters between the age of 12 and 18 years old answered the questionnaire with personal views on as well as examples from their online experiences.

New survey: Young people’s experiences on social network sites February 12, 2008

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in PhD Data, Safer Internet Day, Social network sites, Survey, Youth.
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Today is Safer Internet Day 2008. In that connection the Danish Media Council and I launch some of the results from our online survey about Danish children and young people’s use of social network sites. See more about the survey here.

Download press release.

Download fact sheet with central findings.

Unfortunately, the documents are in Danish, but I promise to blog about the central findings in English when I have more time. Now I have to get ready for the Safer Internet Day event in the Experimentarium in Copenhagen.

Go’ morgen Danmark February 11, 2008

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Media coverage, News media, PhD Data, Social Networking, Survey, Youth.
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Tomorrow morning at 7.15 I will be in “Go’ morgen Danmark” on TV2 (Danish television). I will be talking about the new survey I did with the Danish Media Council for Children and Young People. See more about the show here.

Safer Internet Day 2008 February 5, 2008

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Internet Safety, PhD Data.
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safer-internet-day-2008-banner.gifNext Tuesday, February 12, I am participating in “Safer Internet Day 2008“.

Safer Internet Day is a yearly event organised by Insafe, the European internet safety network. Last year 43 countries from all over the world participated in the event.

This year’s theme is “Life online is what YOU make of IT”. I am participating in the Danish part of the event which takes place at the science museum, the Experimentarium, in Copenhagen and is arranged by The Danish Media Council for Children and Young People. Here, many of the most popular social network sites for children and young people in Denmark, like Arto.dk, Habbo.dk, Netstationen.dk, MSN.dk and Cyberhus.dk, will participate both online and offline. See the Danish programme here.

During the event I will be presenting some of the primary results from the online questionnaire about young people’s use of social network sites that I launched last year at Safer Internet Day together with the Media Council. There are some really interesting data on the different experiences – both good and bad – that Danish youngsters have online. I will upload a small fact sheet presenting the data on the actual day. (However, as the data are part of my PhD project I haven’t deeply or theoretically analysed them yet. But some preliminary conclusions can be drawn.)

Watch the official Safer Internet Day 2008 video clip here.