How is online social networking changing socializing in real life? It's a very interesting question that people – from researchers to social networkers themselves – are beginning to look into. For one thing, UK professors have found, "online social networks tend to be far larger than their real-life counterparts," Science Daily reports – "the average person has a social network of around 150 friends, ranging from very close friends to casual acquaintances." There are as many insights to be gained, too, from this blog post by a 23-year-old social networker who has thought a lot about how social networking has affected his life and the lives of his fellow social-Web users: "5 observations of how social networking (online) has changed social networking (offline)." His first observation, "Social networking as a pre-screening tool," seems to answer a question Prof. Will Reader at Sheffield Hallam University took to his research: "Making new friends involves an investment by committing time and energy to another person in the hope that they will provide reciprocal benefits in the future. Dr. Reader and his colleagues wondered whether online networks are somehow reducing the investment necessary to make new friends by lowering the perceived risk." Meanwhile, a media studies class at Pitzer College in southern California will be studying YouTube, looking at such things as "the role of 'corporate-sponsored democratic media expression'," its professor told the Associated Press.
NetFamilyNews – by Anne Collier
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Analysis & News – by Larry Magid
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