Identity Construction and Impression Management of Teenagers in Social Networking Sites
The development of Internet as a medium of communication has brought a new dimension in human communication. As with previous technological developments, such as printing or television, computer-mediated communication introduced revolutionary changes in ways people communicate and relate to each other. The relevance of this book is related to the dramatic spread of social networking sites, new online services, and the increase of their importance for Internet users and, especially, teenagers. In these services users create self representations in order to be able to connect with friends from the offline world and to get acquainted with new people. This book analyzes the specifics of identity construction and impression management of teenagers in social networking sites and is based on two research methods: a quantitative content analysis and a qualitative semiotic analysis. Both methods are applied to examine the textual and visual self-representation of more than 1600 fourteen-year old teenagers in two social networking sites. The comparison is made between the Russian Vkontakte and the German SchülerVZ that are nowadays the most popular social networking sites among teenagers in Russia and Germany. The quantitative analysis has shown that, in spite of seeming diversity, the number of teenage self-presentation patterns is surprisingly limited. The qualitative analysis of the same sample has shown that teenagers rely on an amazingly narrow range of social norms and stereotypes and follow the same ego-ideals in creation of their online images. This means that the deindividuation takes place not only during anonymous communication, as the SIDE model implies, but also during non-anonymous communication in social networking sites. The book also shows that teenage self-presentation practices do not depend much on national culture, but depend significantly on gender and gender stereotypes. The analysis of “virtual passports” created by teenagers on their profile pages also reveals some important trends in the contemporary globalized culture and makes obvious the importance of aspects such as for instance sport, music and the fantasy world for teenagers and their construction of identity.