Date of Degree

10-2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Sociology

Advisor

William Kornblum

Subject Categories

Communication Technology and New Media | Mass Communication | Women's Studies

Keywords

aggression, bullying, Facebook, girls, self-presentation, teens

Abstract

Online social network participation is widespread among American adolescents. Prolific creators, consumers and curators of content, they write themselves into being (boyd, 2007) on social network sites like Facebook. Drawing on Erving Goffman's study of symbolic interaction in the form of dramaturgical perspective and The Third Person Effect, this research explores how young women ages 14-17 craft their self-presentations, engage in impression management, and experience aggression and bullying on Facebook. I propose that the majority of this age cohort craft online self-presentations that are consistent with their offline selves, yet they believe that other girls their age use their profiles to craft distinct online portrayals. I hypothesize that girls who restrict their privacy settings to "viewable by friends only" have fewer experiences with aggression and bullying than those who don't. I analyze these data from the perspective of youth culture on Facebook and the discourse of digital citizenship.

Data for this research comes from the Girl Scouts Research Institute's "Who's that Girl? Image and Social Media Survey," fielded through online interviews in 2010 to a geographic mix of individuals consistent with U.S. Census figures. Respondents are 1,026 young women (Girl Scouts and non- Girl Scouts) evenly distributed across the ages of 14-17 who have profiles on at least one social network site, including Facebook.

The majority of respondents report that they craft self-presentations on Facebook that reflect their offline self-portrayals, yet they believe most other girls their age do so in ways that make themselves look different and cooler than they really are. Those who restrict the three sections of their Facebook profiles to viewable by friends only experience fewer incidences of aggression than those who don't. These findings suggest strategies for understanding the lives of youth online and how to connect their behavior to the conversation around digital citizenship.

Share

COinS
 
 

To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.