For most teens, friendship-driven and interest-driven practices play a more central role in structuringnew media participation than interest-driven practices. MySpace and Facebook are common tools for friendship-driven practices These sites are emblematic of the genre offriendship-driven participation and support the kind ofsocial relations that center on popularity, romanticrelationships, and status
“If you’re not on MySpace you don’t exist” Teens use social networking sites (SNSs) to keep in touch with their friends, classmates, and peers when getting together is not possible. For many contemporary teenagers, losing access to social media is tantamount to losing their social world
Teen practices when using social media mirror those that scholars have documented in other places where teens gather with peers Teens gather in networked public spaces just as they do in public places like parking lots or shopping malls for a variety of reasons: including to negotiate identity, gossip, support one another, jockey for status, collaborate, share information, joke, etc. Social media allow teens to extend their interactions beyond physical boundaries
Technology plays a huge role in establishing, reinforcing, complicating, and damaging friendship-driven social bonds.This chapter examines how social media intersects with four types of everyday peer negotiations: Making friends Performing friendships Articulating friendship hierarchies Navigating issues of status, attention, and drama
“1950’s have been identified as a pivotal period that saw the emergence of many of the dynamics that define contemporary youth peer culture and adult attitudes toward youth. This period saw a broadening of the base of teens who attend high school, a growth in youth popular and commercial cultures, and the emergence of an age-segregated peer culture that dominated youth’s everyday negotiations over status and identity.” (82)As more and more youth attended high school they were becoming more independent as a culture from their parents. They were starting to make their own decisions, which were influenced heavily by others because of their constant contact with others their age. I think that all the contact this generation had with others their age increased the influence status and identity had in their everyday lives. This period started the migration of youth from public forms of friendship and gathering to, eventually, SNSs.
“The peer relations of children and teens are structured by a developmental logic supported by educational institutions organized by rigid age boundaries. We share a cultural consensus that the ability to socialize with peers and make friendships is a key component of growing up as a competent social being, and that young people need to be immersed in peer cultures from an early age.” (83)As a culture we put a great amount of value into having lasting relationships and socializing with others from an early age. When we have children we plan play dates as soon as they are able to recognize the presence of other people. The social media world acted as almost a new culture for people to be immersed in and foster relationships through. The relations and social dynamics that play out in school extend into the spaces created through social media. The places that teens would normally socialize in have been created in the virtual world that allows them to socialize with those they may not see on a daily basis.
Making Friends “Social media theoretically allow teens to move beyond geographic restrictions and connect with new people. Presumably, this means that participants could develop relations with people who are quite different from them.” (88)Although one would think that SNSs allow teens to connect with new people from different walks of life, this is typically not what happens. Like earlier discussed, SNSs are used by teens as virtual “hang-out spots” where they are unrestricted and typically uncensored. As Sabrina from the text describes, I just find my friends and hang out.” (89) “This is not to say that teens to not leverage social media to develop friendships. Tees frequently use social media as additional channels of communication to get to know classmates and turn acquaintances into friendships.” (89)SNSs can be useful tools to learning more about acquaintances and classmates. Teens often use social media to make new friends of develop new friendships, but they usually do so with acquaintances they have met already or friends of friends.
Some teens, especially marginalized or ostracized ones, use the opportunity that SNSs give them to meet new people from different areas.Teens who are driven by specific interests that may not by supported by their schools, such as gaming, can build relations with others online. This is exactly the kind of SNS usage that caused schools to implement the same sort of “stranger danger” education about people met in the real world to those met online. Mainstream media, law enforcement, teachers, and parents reinforce the message that interacting with strangers online is risky.
Performing Friendships“One of the ways in which social media alter friendship practices is through the forced- and often public- articulation of social connections” (94)This serves three purposes Lists (such as friends list of buddy lists) act as an address book allowing participants to keep a record of all the people they know They allow participants to leverage privacy settings to control who accesses their content The public display of connections that takes place in social network sites can represent an individual’s social identity and statusThis is one way that teens are able to monitor and shape their status online. The amount of Facebook friends or followers on Twitter they have represent a sort of popularity or status in the real world.
The idea of the “friend request” adds another layer of social processing to the process of performing friendships through SNSs.“Friending” has become a ritual that can permit or prompt direct interaction when teens involved see one another in school or at a group function; it lays the groundwork for building a friendship and gives a reason to single the other out from the group and initiate communications.
Friendship HierarchiesFeatures on social media sites like Top Friends on MySpace creates a hierarchy among online friendships. This allowed users to rank their friends based on relational closeness. “Reciprocity plays a central role in the negotiation of Top Friends. Many teens expect that if they list someone as a Top Friend, that person should list them in return. Teens worry about not being listed and about failing to list those who list them.” (101)Examples from the text, such as a fifteen year old named Jordan stating “Oh, it’s so stressful because if you’re in someone else’s Top Friends then you feel bad if they’re not in yours,” highlight the power of this feature in shaping how teens interact with SNSs. The main problem with online rankings like Top Friends is that it created hierarchies that are not present offline, forcing a new set of social status negotiations.
Status, Attention, and Drama“While teen dramas are only one component of friendship, they often are made extremely visible by social media. The persistent and networked qualities of social media alter the ways that these dramas play out in teen life.” (104)Even though I am older than the group described in the text, I see this exact thing happen on a daily basis. Drama is either created online between two people or groups of people, or happens in real life and is continued on SNSs. For this reason it is important to pay attention to the role that social media play in the negotiation of teen status.
“Gossip and rumors have played a role in teen struggles for status and attention since well before social media entered the scene.” (105)I am a strong advocate for SNSs and use them daily personally and for work. They have a lot of great qualities for maintaining friendships. However, many teens have not learned how to manage and maintain friendships in real life when they begin to use SNSs. This causes the gossip and rumors that serve as a catalyst for teen drama.
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