Young People Online
The Alchemy of the Virtual and the Real in the Performance of Identity on Social Networking Sites.
Internet social interactions have generated significant changes in communication and interpersonal behaviour worldwide. The use of social networking has seen an explosion of interest in recent years and in particular it is young people that have adapted to this form of online communication.
Consequently, this current research project is focusing on the social networking practices of young Irish users in relation to modes of expression and identity formation. This qualitative based research study incorporates a novel research approach known as the Think Aloud protocol whereby data is gathered through the observation of participants thinking aloud and engaging in discussion with the researcher whilst carrying out their everyday social networking activities. The participants of this research are experienced users of the Bebo and Facebook social networks, given that they are the two most frequently visited networking websites in Ireland (Alexa.com, 2009).
It is hoped that the findings of this research will help to depict users’ understandings of the role of virtual life (VL) culture in their real life (RL) culture, whilst also assessing the role of technical features within these websites in relation to the users’ sense of own potential to shape interactions. In addition, it will establish criteria of good practice and point to technical features that concern and constrain users of networking sites.
This research is being carried out by Deirdre Kelly supervised by Dr Carol MacKeogh of the Department of Humanities (at IADT) and Dr John Greaney. Deirdre is a graduate of the Psychology Applied to Information Technology degree at IADT.
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