‘Story of one’s life and a tree of friends’ – understanding millennials’ information behaviour in social networks
Exploring ways in which new technology impacts adolescents’ information behaviours and creates a social space requires holistic investigation. A qualitative study of 21 seniors in an upper-middle-class suburban high school revealed highly individualized use of Facebook and its features. These included: (i) Friends groups of 50—3700 members, with even the largest groups representative primarily of face-to-face connections, and (ii) a clear articulation within those groups of various categories, each with its own distinct communicative channel and style. A meaningful connection was found between the social value of various social network (SN)-mediated relationships and the communicative modes used to maintain and enhance them. Through a comprehensive literature review and clearly grounded analysis of rich data, this work supports the contention that adolescent social groups in which SNs are embedded form a distinct domain, and establishes a rationale for further investigation of adolescents’ contextualized use of SNs within social relationships.