Thursday, September 9, 2010

Popularity, Kids and Social Networks

Jack Dikian


When most kids reach that age where their proficiency with computers and mobile phones is only matched by what may be seen to be an obsession with the social desirability gained through an on-line social life.

Some parents will report that their kids’ on-line social life has taken over their life, and others will reflect on how these social networking sites have become a part of our every day life. It’s been said many times that teenagers consider social networks to be one of the prime avenues of leisure. In addition, teenagers will argue that depriving them of internet access is somewhat similar to that of being deprived of human rights.

From the myriad of interesting phenomena a social psychologist may glean of the role of the social network in mood modulation, social awareness, convenience of communication, educational value, language, social convergence, friendship forming, etc, the element I am particularly interested in is:

The question of perceived popularity in the age of social networking by both the teenager and also his or her parents of them.

We examine factors including:-
  • The concordance in avatars replicating the actual self versus avatars used by teenagers projecting the ideal self.
  • The degree of automatic stereotype activation when confronted by negative feedback.
  • If perceived popularity within the peer group (social network) is a predictor of some life outcomes.
  • Parent’s natural response when faced with a teenager who reports that he or she hasn’t nearly as many “friends” or “buddies” as others in his/her class.
Does the following sound familiar?

Why is it that we want 220 friends when we only ever speak to about 10 of them? And the worst thing is, there is always a mini competition to see who has the most friends driven to such an extent that people make fake accounts and/or befriend strangers who are new to these social networking sites.

It started to bother me says one mum, my daughter wasn’t very popular, and I suggested that she could fatten up her buddy list with names that I know my daughter is friends with….

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