Text Production in Bebo: a study of three children's text production in online social networking sites
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This thesis aims to explore three pre-teenage children’s text production in online social networking sites. Social networking is a mainstream youth activity in the UK, conducted by (at the time of writing) almost 50% of 10-12 year old internet users (Ofcom, 2011, p.44). While social networking has been the subject of much interest amongst scholars and policy-makers, little has been published that documents the use of social networking amongst pre-teenage children. The literature that does exist is largely concerned with documenting usage (Ofcom, 2011; Livingstone and Haddon, 2010), and children’s safety in these contexts (Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF)/Byron 2010; DCSF/Byron, 2008; Livingstone et al., 2011a). This study aims to explore children’s text production in social networking sites with rightful regard for this concern, but with a focus on how children behave as text producers in these contexts.
Working from an interpretive qualitative research paradigm, a purposive sample of three children who used (at the time) the popular social networking site Bebo was selected. The children were interviewed using a semi-structured interview schedule three times between June 2008 and May 2009. Interviews were transcribed using a line by line coding method. To support these data and contextualise analysis, screenshots of the children’s profile pages were also collected at each interview. Using a constructivist grounded theory approach (Charmaz, 2006), these data were analysed within data sets around each interview incident, and then synthesised to build a case study for each participant. This recursive process involved initial and focused coding, where following the construction of key codes for each data set, the codes were organised under thematic headings and finally used to construct tentative categories that described how the children behaved as text producers. Four tentative categories were constructed to describe the participants’ behaviour: text production to achieve social positioning; text production to achieve social control; text production to enact a text producing role; and text production for pleasure. Based upon the elaboration of these categories, a model of text production as mastery is proposed. In this model, children’s text production is regarded in relation two spectrums of mastery: a spectrum of social control and a spectrum of textual crafting. This study concludes by recommending that the social networking context must be recognised by educators as a meaningful context in which children’s mastery of these critical skills can be developed in order that they can they learn to be critical and masterful text producers in the new digital age (Gee, 2011 and Hayes, 2011).
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