Social-networking sites are important Petri dishes. By studying the social Web, researchers are learning a lot about how people interact – not just about how they do so now and online but about human interaction in general. In fact, research in social-networking sites "may be more accurate than personal information offered elsewhere online, such as chat room profiles, because [it's] based in real-world relationships that originate in confined communities like campuses," reports the New York Times, referring to a UCLA- and Harvard-based study of 1,700 Facebook users in the junior class of one northeastern US college. One of the things they're looking at: "weak ties," those between, say, two classmates or people who meet at a big party. "Weak ties are significant, scholars say, because they are likely to provide people with new perspectives and opportunities that they might not get from close friends and family." According to the Times, "social scientists at Indiana, Northwestern, Pennsylvania State, Tufts, the University of Texas and other institutions are mining Facebook to test traditional theories in their fields about relationships, identity, self-esteem, popularity, collective action, race and political engagement. The Washington Post recently ran a gossipy piece about the fledgling social-media research community which got some reaction in the academic blogosphere (e.g., ), but it does name a number of the individual researchers and projects working on the social Web right now. Back to the Harvard-UCLA project: An important concept they're exploring is "triadic closure," "first put forth by the pioneering German sociologist Georg Simmel … whether one’s friends are also friends of one another. If this seems trivial, consider that a study in 2004 in The American Journal of Public Health suggested that adolescent girls who are socially isolated and whose friends are not friends with one another experienced more suicidal thoughts."
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NetFamilyNews – by Anne Collier
- What are we really seeing in the social media fishbowl?
- Spoiler alert: Kid loves teaching Twitter to Dad
- At the IGF: Youth participation = greater youth e-safety
- Enabling peer protection: Knowledge is empowerment
- Millennials’ changing social media use: Survey
- Heard of Twitch? Amazon has!
- Dealing with the nasties online
- Leadership in bullying prevention and so much more
Analysis & News – by Larry Magid
- High school kids show strong support for First Amendment
- UN bringing child rights into the digital age
- IGF attendees complain about censorship in Turkey while some advocate it for youth
- Internet Governance Forum topics include human rights, network neutrality and child protection
- Protecting children online needs to allow for their right to free speech
- It’s time for schools to upgrade both technology and pedagogy
- Why Google (and Facebook) should admit kids under 13
- As Ferguson struggles, Georgia teens create app to rate police departments