Using the power of research to inform ICT integration in education

Tufekci, Z. (2010). Who Acquires Friends Through Social Media and Why ? “ Rich Get Richer ” versus “ Seek and Ye Shall Find ” Online Friendship : The Subject Never Dies. Media. AAAI Press.

There is an ongoing debate, not just among academics but in popular culture, about whether social media can expand peoples social networks, and whether online friends can be real friends. The debate refuses to die. This paper addresses this question subjectively, from the point of view of the user, and examines predictors of acquiring new friends through social media use. This is a multi-method study with quantitative (n=617) and qualitative sections. Some previous studies have found a rich-get-richer effect where people who are socially active offline benefit most from online interactions. This paper examines whether online social ties become real friends subject to a selffulfilling prophecy: those who do not believe in online friendships are not likely to make such connections. I compare the Rich Get Richer and Seek and Ye Shall Find models by examining relationships between the amount of offline socializing, amount of online social activity and the belief in online friendships. Respondents attitudes as to online sociality are qualitatively examined. The results support one of the earliest theories of computermediated- communication: hyperpersonal interaction. It appears that some people perceive online interaction to concentrate on the conversation itself, rather than on appearances, and find it to be freer of social judgments. On the other hand, for other people, face-to-face interaction has inimitable features that simply cannot be replicated or replaced. African-Americans are significantly more likely to meet new friends online. This study contradicts the idea that people who are more social offline are more social online, as well as the notion that it is only the social misfits who use social media to make new friends as there was no difference in the number of offline friends between those who made new friends online and those who did not.

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