The Growth of Social Networking Sites

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The participants and audience for SNSs is growing rapidly. Statistics published become quickly out dated and it is interesting to observe both the international and national trends of Internet usage generally over the years, as well as those specific to the use of Social Networking Sites. Access to technology has become an integral part of education, socialisation and industry related requirements, and accordingly Internet usage is evolving and growing rapidly. A survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statics in 2003 found that in the 12 months prior to April 2003, 95% of Australian children, aged between five and fourteen years had used a computer. The frequency of their usage increased with the age of the survey respondents. In 2006, 63% of Australian dwellings had access to the internet compared to only 35% in 2001. In December 2009 there were 9.1 million active internet subscribers in Australia, with 90% of these subscribers having a sophisticated broadband connection. Adolescents, over the past couple of years especially, have progressively adopted technology as their preferred method of interaction (Bargh & McKenna, 2004.) Much of their identity development process is occurring online, as they experiment with their self expression. In 2003 32% of twelve to fourteen years olds were already accessing the Internet daily (ABS, 2003.) Samuelson (2010) calls this generation of adolescents the ‘Millenials,’ describing them as ‘the first truly digital generation.’ A study regarding Media and Communications in Australian Families (2007) found that 70% of Australian girls between the ages of fourteen and seventeen had a profile on the SNS MySpace, compared to 50% of teenage boys. They also discovered that girls tende... ... middle of paper ... ...ot appear to be the case for users of social network sites. Peter, Valkenberg & Schouten (2005) found that young adults who demonstrate positive offline peer relationships are more likely to use social networking sites as an avenue to continue and strengthen these interactions. This was contradicted by research published in 2006, which suggested that College students with less clearly defined self-concepts were more likely to use the internet, suggesting that young adults may turn to networked spaces as a tool for identity development (Matsuba, 2006.) A retrospective study found that youths who were better adjusted at ages 13-14, (as indicated through the limited negativity observed in their face-to-face peer interactions and fewer self reported depressive symptoms) were more likely to be using SNS at 20-22 years of age. (Mikami, Szwedo, Allen, Even and Hare 2008)

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