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Are the moral panics over? January 21, 2009

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Moral panic, Parents, Social Networking, Youngsters.

In Denmark, Facebook has become so mainstream that you can expect all kinds of people at all ages to have a profile on the site. Apparently, Denmark is the second largest Facebook country measured in profiles per citizens (even though the large number of profiles probably does not equal the actual amount of users).

Today I received a message on Facebook from an 80 year old man who told me that he uses Facebook to keep in touch with his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. And he is not alone. Many grown up’s are now communicating with their children on Facebook (which I have recently been giving some interviews on). Also those children and young people who normally use Arto, Skum, NationX or other Danish social network sites that are targeted particularity at young people. At the moment I am receiving many friendship requests on FB from my 12-16 year old informants. At least it is safe to say that several generations are now represented on the same site.

And this has made me think: Are the moral panics over? Have social network sites become so naturalised in society that the previous moral panics concerning e.g. Arto in Denmark or MySpace in the US have faded out?  It has been a while since journalists have focused on the fears and dangers of young peoples’ use of social network sites, and when I am being interviewed they certainly ask different questions than they did a couple of years ago. Also, parents ask me radically different questions when I am giving talks at schools. And politicians are eagerly embracing social network sites and social media in general.

Perhaps we are over the worst moral panics when it comes to youth and online social networking? At least I find it interesting if I through my research into this area during the past four of five years have witness this transition.

Christmas on Facebook December 9, 2008

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Facebook, Social Networking.
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nissepus-to-blog-postIn e-Learning Lab we have as Christmas garden gnome with the name ‘Ell Nissepus’. Last year one of my colleagues created a Facebook profile for her, and during December Nissepus posted status updates about the upcoming Christmas party etc. This year Nissepus is alive again and some of us take turns to update the profile with Christmassy stuff and write to our colleagues.

Last week I was interviewed by the Danish newspaper B.T. about Christmas activities on social network sites like Facebook. I happened to mention Ell Nissepus, which the journalist found so interesting that he decided to mention her in the article (which was published today) as an example of how users can creatively use Facebook to create social bonds during the holiday season.

Even though I am strongly against fake profiles, I think this is okay as it is obvious that e-Learning Lab is behind the profile. And it is a nice Christmas gag around the office.

Feel free to friend ‘Ell Nissepus‘. I’m sure she will like the attention 😀

Update December 12: Today there is an online version of the B.T. article in which Nissepus is mentioned.

Online social networking: From local experiences to global discourses September 11, 2008

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Academic, Conferences, Social Networking, Youth Culture.

As I am no longer on vacation, it must be time for an update from My PhD Blog.

As I wrote in my last post, I have been working on my paper for this year’s AoiR conference in Copenhagen. The paper is entitled “Online soical networking: From local experiences to global discourses”. It is based on the comprehensive national survey about Danish teenagers’ use of social network sites that I conducted together with The Media Council last year. In the paper I explore the different experiences that young people have through the use of social networking technologies. Those experiences are analysed in relation to the often one-sided public discourses surrounding the subject. Here is an extract from the abstract:

Often, young people do not have a voice in the public debate on internet safety and online social networking, but – as the paper will demonstrate – that does not mean that they do not have an opinion. By examining the responses of 2400 Danish young people to an online open-ended questionnaire dealing with their experiences on social network sites, I demonstrate how young people relate not only to a local context, but also a broader societal level when addressing the issues of online behaviour. In the paper I analyse how young Danes between the age of 12 and 18 – through their statements and responses in the survey – construct themselves as users of social network sites both in relation to very concrete and local online experiences from their everyday life and in relation to a more intangible global level of mediated discourses. Subsequently, I analyse how they construct themselves as ‘responsible young people’ by distancing themselves from the public and “grown up” discourse represented by e.g. their parents, teachers or the media.

I look forward to presenting my ideas about the “local experiences” and “global discourses”, which are based on Ron Scollon’s framework of Geographies of Discourse. Also, I look forward to the AoiR conference in general. The programme looks really interesting.

My paper can be downloaded here.

Go online with your kids May 19, 2008

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Internet Safety, Social Networking, Survey, Youth Culture.
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This weekend the Danish newspaper Berlingske Tidende published an article about children and young people’s use of social network sites and how much knowledge parents have about their children’s online activities. The article is based on the survey I have conducted together with with The Danish Media Council for Children and Young People. It uses some empirical examples from our study and the overall message is that parents should go online with their kids.

You can read the article here (unfortunately only in Danish). I like the cartoon that goes along with the article 😀

Greetings from Halkidiki – and some notes on connectedness… May 4, 2008

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Holiday, Reading, Social Networking, Travel.

I am in Greece at the moment. At a beautiful summer resort in the breathtaking Halkidiki, which is located in the south eastern part of Central Macedonia. I am here on a working holiday – not attending the Networked Learning Conference, which will take place here the next couple of days, but Thomas, my boyfriend, is attending, so I thought it would be a nice idea to come with him and get a bit of reading done.

So far, it has been really nice. The weather is great and I have been sitting by the pool reading. One of the books I am reading is “Connecting – How We Form Social Bonds and Communities in the Internet Age” by Mary Chayko. It is rapidly becoming one of my favourite books. It deals with how people form different sociomental bonds with others with whom they seldom communicate face to face, who they don’t even know or have never met IRL.

The book was published in 2002 – before online social networking was really an issue, and nowhere in the book the them ‘social network site’ is mentioned, but I feel like I am reading about online social networking and how people form and maintain online connections on e.g. Facebook – and why it is important to have  connections to both particular and typified others (e.g. a chat friend, a faraway relative, a deceased family member, a celebrity or even a fictional character) and why these connections are just as important to us as our daily face to face interactions.

I think that I will use the book and some of its concepts in my dissertation when explaining and defining online social networking. Even though it doesn’t deal with social network sites, Chayko acknowledges the fact that she could be writing about upcoming technologies that might change how we connect and form social bonds in the age of the Internet: “It is a safe bet that technologies that are being developed, refined, and disseminated as this is written will lead to currently unimaginable changes in our society, in the nature of connectedness and in thinking itself” (p. 15). Did someone mention Facebook, Bebo, Orkut…?

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.

New article: Facebook and 10 fascinating phenomenons January 9, 2008

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Articles, Facebook, Social Networking.

Today I have an article out on the Danish internet portal Kommunikationsforum. The article is called “Hvorfor fænger Facebook?” (Why is Facebook fascinating?) In the article I describe 10 fascinating phenomenons about Facebook. I do so by drawing some parallels between Danish youngsters’ use of social network sites and how grown-ups in Denmark are using Facebook at the moment.

The article is only in Danish, but can be read here.

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…)

New article December 20, 2007

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Articles, Social Networking, Youth.
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I have a new, small article out in the December newsletter from Insafe on social networking. The article is in English (for once) and is called “It’s all about real life: On youth and online social networking”. Here I present some of the results from the survey I have been doing in collaboration with The Danish Media Council for Children and Young People.

Read the article here.

Idols and YouTube combined in SNS December 11, 2007

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Arto, Social Networking.

Arto recently launched “Arto Idol” as part of their social network site. Here the users can participate in an online talent show (similar to “Scenen er din”, “American Idol” or “Britain’s Got Talent”) within six categories. Each month the site will elect the 10 best participants in the competition.

It is possible for the users to comment on each other’s videos – very much similar to YouTube. What strikes me so far is that the users comment really positively on each other’s videos. This is similar to the positive and loving atmosphere that can be found in their use of the picture galleries or in their profile texts (as I have written about in this article). I will definitely keep an eye on this new initiative. Does anyone know of something similar in other countries?

Check out Arto Idol here.