IMing, Text Messaging, and Adolescent Social Networks

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Abstract

Building on previous research in computer-mediated communication, social and communication networks, and adolescent development, this article raises three issues regarding adolescent use of socially interactive technologies (SITs) and their relationship to offline social networks: 1) whether adolescents are creating more, but weaker ties using SITs, 2) to what extent adolescent SIT-facilitated networks overlap with friendship networks, and 3) whether SIT relationships are important for adolescents who have fewer offline peer ties. In order to investigate these questions, network data collection and analysis were integrated with more traditional questionnaire methodology and statistical analysis. The results show that the adolescents in the study were not creating more ties using SITs, nor were they necessarily creating weaker SIT-based ties; that there was little overlap between SIT-facilitated and offline social networks; and that socially isolated adolescents were less likely than other adolescents to use SITs.

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