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Think B4 U post! Happy Safer Internet Day 2010 February 9, 2010

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Internet Safety, Safer Internet Day, Social network sites.

Today,  Safer Internet Day 2010 is celebrated in more than 30 countries all over the world. This year’s topic is “Think B4 U post!” focusing on making children and young people aware that they can be in control of their online identity.

Follow the hashtag #SID10 on Twitter.

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.

Slides from public talks October 29, 2009

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Arto, Facebook, Science communication, Social network sites, Talks, Youth Culture.

Yesterday I gave four public talks in Aalborg under the headline “Facebook and the digital youth culture” (all talks in Danish, though). During the day I talked at three different high schools and the last talk was in the evening at Studenterhuset. Since many of the attendants asked for my slides I will provide them here:

They will probably only make sense to the people who attended the talks, since the integrated links with examples, definitions, pictures etc. don’t work in slideshare. Also, I have cut out some of the pictures out of ethical considerations. BUT I have provided a list of reference to both my own and other researchers’ publications, where those interested can read more.

Dating site integrated into social network site September 2, 2009

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Arto, Dating, Social network sites.

As regular followers of this blog will know, my main ‘field site’ has for many years been the Danish social network site Arto.com. For a long time Arto was the most popular SNS in Denmark with a huge group of core users between the age of 12 and 17. Now, the site is threatened by the major popularity of Facebook and according to a recent report from ‘Digital view’ Arto has shrunk to a third of its size during the past year – with an increase in especially 15-19 year old users.

Perhaps this is the reason why Arto has made a lot of changes lately and now seems to be targeting a much more broad (and international) audience.  One of the most recent initiatives is a dating section, where users can show an immediate interest in each other by clicking through a list of profile pictures (based on their own criteria) and state whether they are “Interested” or “Not interested”. The system works like a matchmaking feature; if two users have both shown an interest in each other there is a match:

I am interested in whether this will change the social networking part of the site. Anyway, I find it interesting that my profile (which I keep for research related reasons) was automatically integrated into the dating section. This means that other users, who have set their search criteria with my age and gender, will be able to show a romantic interest in me, even though I am not interested in dating… So far, it doesn’t seem that users can edit their settings to prevent this.

I am wondering if we will see more dating sites and social network sites merging in the years to come? I know that Danish MySpace users can use their user name to sign into Match.com, but in general, are people interested in having their SNS profile merge with their dating profile?

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.”

Guest-blogging at Nettendenser December 19, 2008

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Blogs, Social network sites, Youth.

For a while I have been wanting to keep a blog in Danish. However, I must admit that I do not have the time to maintain two blogs. Therefore, I was happy when Lars Damgaard Nielsen asked me to be a guest-blogger at his interesting blog called Nettensender. It is a Danish blog about the social aspects of the internet.

Today my first guest article was posted. It deals with how young people feel about grown-ups’ attitudes towards their use of social network sites. Here is a small extract from the post (in Danish):

Der er nok af holdninger til emnet ’unge og sociale netværk’, og perspektiverne er mangfoldige. De unge selv er ganske trætte af de panik-/skræmmehistorier om især pædofili/børnelokkeri, som de seneste fem år har været fremme i de danske nyhedsmedier, og som ofte over en kam fremstiller de unge brugere som ansvars- og hjælpeløse ofre.

You can read the post directly at Nettendenser here.

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.
1 comment so far

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.

Brainstorm: Social network site categories January 8, 2008

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Brainstorm, Social network sites, Social Networking.

As my first blog post in 2008 I hereby invite all the readers of “My PhD Blog” to participate in a little post-holiday exercise :-D.

It is a brainstorm on all the different categories of social network sites that exist at the moment. I will start by listing the categories I can think of – with exemplary sites. Please feel free to add more. And feel free to correct me if you think that some of my categories, or examples used, are off.

I am aware that some of the sites I mention will fall into more than one category. Many of the sites are – because of my research interests – Danish, but I would like to know about international examples as well.

Social network site categories

  1. Youth – e.g. Arto, NationX, SKUM, LunarStorm, Bebo
  2. Friendship – e.g. Facebook, Friendster
  3. Games/fun – e.g. Habbo Hotel, Netstationen
  4. Business/CV – e.g. LinkedIn
  5. Music – e.g. LastFM, MySpace, myvoice
  6. Video/entertainment – e.g. YouTube, Vix.dk
  7. Photos – e.g. Flickr
  8. Pets – e.g. Catster, Dogster
  9. Religion – e.g. MyChurch, GodTube
  10. Academic/professional – e.g. KForum
  11. Political – e.g. Radikale.net
  12. Libraries – e.g. Vores Bibliotek
  13. Discussion – e.g. Mingler
  14. Death – e.g. Mindet.dk
  15. Enemies/hate – e.g. Enemybook, Hatebook, IFHY (I Fucking Hate You)
  16. Anti-social – e.g. isolatr, NoSo, Snubster
  17. School – e.g. HG Space, Ekademia
  18. Design – e.g. Threadless, NotABrand
  19. Children – e.g. GoSupermodel
  20. Blogging – e.g. Blog.dk
  21. Sleep and wake up – e.g. Sleep.Fm

Those were the different categories I could think of. There must be several others 🙂

(I know that some of the sites I used as examples would perhaps not fall under the definition of a social network site – that depends on the definition…)