Social Networking

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ARTICLE IN PRESS

Journal of Adolescence
Journal of Adolescence 31 (2008) 125–146
www.elsevier.com/locate/jado

Personal information of adolescents on the Internet: A quantitative content analysis of MySpace Sameer Hindujaa,Ã, Justin W. Patchinb
a

Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Florida Atlantic University, 5353 Parkside Drive, Jupiter, FL 33458-2906, USA b Department of Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, 105 Garfield Avenue, Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004, USA

Abstract Many youth have recently embraced online social networking sites such as MySpace (myspace.com) to meet their social and relational needs. While manifold benefits stem from participating in such web-based environments, the popular media has been quick to demonize MySpace even though an exponentially small proportion of its users have been victimized due to irresponsible or naı¨ ve usage of the technology it affords. Major concerns revolve around the possibility of sexual predators and pedophiles finding and then assaulting adolescents who carelessly or unwittingly reveal identifiable information on their personal profile pages. The current study sought to empirically ascertain the type of information youth are publicly posting through an extensive content analysis of randomly sampled MySpace profile pages. Among other findings, 8.8% revealed their full name, 57% included a picture, 27.8% listed their school, and 0.3% provided their telephone number. When considered in its proper context, these results indicate that the problem of personal information disclosure on MySpace may not be as widespread as many assume, and that the overwhelming majority of adolescents are responsibly using the web site. Implications for Internet safety among adolescents and future research regarding adolescent Internet use are discussed. r 2007 The Association for Professionals in Services for Adolescents. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Keywords: MySpace; Victimization; Youth; Social networking; Online communities; Internet safety; Content analysis

ÃCorresponding author. Tel.: +1 561 799 8227; fax: +1 561 799 8535.

E-mail addresses: hinduja@fau.edu (S. Hinduja), patchinj@uwec.edu (J.W. Patchin). 0140-1971/$30.00 r 2007 The Association for Professionals in Services for Adolescents. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2007.05.004

ARTICLE IN PRESS
126 S. Hinduja, J.W. Patchin / Journal of Adolescence 31 (2008) 125–146

Hey guys its me!yMy name is AerialyI am a freshman at HHS i am on the JV volleyball team and i also will be playin basketball! I have long blonde hair blue eyes im bout 5’6y if ya wanna get to kno more about me then jus IM me at [removed] or send me a message! (16-year-old girl from West Virginia). The Internet has vastly augmented the ability of individuals to meet, interact, and keep in contact with others with whom they have something in common, regardless of demographic or geographic restrictions. In the 20th century, youth primarily kept in touch via face-to-face interaction and the telephone. In the 21st century, adolescents with access to the Internet are broadly using computer-mediated methods—which are often more convenient, expedient, and purposed than previous means—to stay in contact (Lenhart, Madden, & Hitlin, 2005; Lenhart, Rainie, & Lewis, 2001; Subramanyam, Greenfield, Kraut, & Gross, 2002; Tidwell & Walther, 2002). Indeed, the veritable explosion in popularity of social networking web sites have seemingly redefined interpersonal communication and relationships as we know them (Romm, Pliskin, & Clarke, 1997). There are a number of popular social networking web sites (e.g., myspace.com, facebook.com, xanga.com, friendster.com). Among these, MySpace has emerged as the most popular—capturing almost 80% of the visits made to this class of web sites (Reuters, 2006). Perhaps because of its popularity, MySpace has received a significant amount of negative...
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