There are many different perspectives to put on online social networking and it is important to know where one is coming from when talking about social networking and youth. The perspective(s) one has will be very different whether one is a parent with a teenage daughter on MySpace, a marketing executive interested in the target group “14 to 20,” a journalist looking for the next big news story on young people and new media, a youngster using a social networking site as part of everyday life or a researcher investigating how young people are using social networking sites.
This is a great article that details the 35 perspectives from which one can approach a youth oriented (12-18) social network. These include from learning, social, democratic, love or surveillance perspectives and many more. It is quite thorough, yet there is a bit of overlap in some of them. She also goes onto describe the 6 different categories these perspectives fall into.
I am really happy that this sort of research and theoretical thinking is being done now on an academic level. I contemplated a few years ago whether to go the academic or business route with online communities. I chose business with twinges of regret, born primarily from the lack of academic research in the area. The more articles like this and danah boyd’s work, the better I feel about my decision. I’ve always been more of a practical approach person who dabbles in theory, though.
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