Date of Award

Winter 1-7-2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Lesley W. Reid

Second Advisor

Dawn M. Baunach

Third Advisor

Wendy S. Simonds

Abstract

This study is an empirical analysis of adolescents' risk management on internet social network sites such as Facebook and MySpace. Using a survey of 935 U.S. adolescents gathered by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, I investigate the influence of offline social networks on online socialization, as well as the impact of parental and self mediation tactics on risky online information-sharing practices. Overall, the relationship between offline social network strength and online communications methods was inconclusive, with results suggesting that most teens use online communications in similar ways, regardless of offline connectedness. Some relationships were discovered between parental and individual mediation tactics and risky online information sharing, largely supporting the use of active mediation techniques by parents and informed control of shared information by individual users. User demographics had a strong effect on risky information sharing, with gender and age playing a significant role. This study also offers some suggestions for parents and policy-makers interested in the topic.

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