Friday, December 13, 2013

Conclusions and Implications

Overall, I find that online identity is certainly related to language use and gender when it comes to adolescent girls.  Adolescents, especially girls, focus on their audience and use that information to code-switch between the different groups of people.  The research breaks down into three groups: gender, language, and identity.  Facebook was the obvious choice to use for this research because it is an affinity space that is so heavily trafficked by adolescents.  The site is large, but it can be split into smaller groups to be more manageable for maintaining friendships within small social groups.  The research shows that adolescent girls are highly susceptible to code-switching, particularly when there are adults present in the conversational group.  Code-switching is essential to the formation of one’s in-person identity, and it is equally important to one’s online identity.  The ability to assess one’s audience and determine the acceptable way to interact with that audience is something which leads to increased linguistic and social capital.  

While code-switching is something that all individuals do, it is interesting to see the deliberate nature of this activity in adolescent girls.  The formation of online identities are certainly important to anyone raising a teenage daughter; however, it is equally important to those who are teaching adolescents.  Educators must understand the social lives of their students to ensure that the education is relevant to the entire group.  The inclusion of SNSs and other online avenues in the classroom mean that one’s online identity will become even more important.  Adolescents, who by nature are still developing their identities, require positive role models to help them learn how to construct the necessary identity.  The teacher from the second data set appears to be one of those role models for the participants in this research.  He and the other adults in the post also play the role of the moderator to the adolescent language use.  Without a role model of what kinds of speech are appropriate in certain situations, individuals have a difficult time determining that on their own.

The research on adolescent girls and their online identities is important, but I do believe that additional research and study is necessary.  A larger group of participants would be the first change I would make for a future study.  The second would be to either ensure that all participants are active users of the SNS.  I also began to wonder if a different SNS might be a better idea at this time in Web 2.0 technology.  Is Facebook outdated?  If so, other sites like Twitter, Tumblr, or Snapchat could be used instead.  As someone who is entirely unaware of how any of those particular sites work, that would be difficult for me.  I also believe that older participants—college students, perhaps— might yield different results; however, they also have their own identities fairly cemented into place.  Overall, I do think that additional study is necessary, but I am personally unsure of how it should be completed.

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