New Study Follows Kids On Social

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You're 18 years old. What can social media do for you? What can it do to you? Social media benefits adolescents by creating connection, academic opportunities, and access to health information. On the other hand, it has created cyberbullying, sexting, and Facebook depression. But how true is any of this, and just what are adolescents doing on social media every day?

A new phase of a multi-year study -- kind of a digital version of the famous "7-Up" documentary series -- will attempt an answer. The research, led by Marion K. Underwood, a professor at the University of Texas, Dallas, actually began in 2003. Underwood, UT’s Ashbel Smith Professor, School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, and her research group started a study on social aggression with a group of 175 nine-year-olds (third graders). Five years later, and before the students began ninth grade, they received BlackBerry devices from Underwood and her team. With lots of confidentiality and firewall arrangements, Underwood was able to embark on a new phase of the longitudinal study by recording each text message, photo, email, and IM. 

Now the "kids" are graduating, but the study is continuing. The emphasis will now be on what the subjects are doing on social media. Their communications on Facebook, Twitter and other channels will be aggregated, archived and studied, with their approval. Doing that back-end work on this new chapter of the study, which is being funded by the National Institutes of Health, is social media archiving solutions company Arkovi. 

Blane Warrene, CEO and co-founder of the Dover, Ohio-based firm, tells Marketing Daily that the shift in the focus of the study to social media makes perfect sense. "It's fascinating that the smart device ended up being the gateway to social media, and not just for Millennials, but for all of us,” he says. “An enormous shift has happened; Millennials have abandoned traditional email, and today they are social messaging. They aren't going back to Gmail or Yahoo to message, but to where their friends are."

Warrene says his company's job in the study will be to function silently, with as little impact as possible, and to make sure the data is secure "so that when someone participates they don't have to worry that their data is going to wind up in 9,000 other studies." He says the system is set up so that the user has to authenticate identity through Akovi when going on social platforms like Facebook. "That provides a security layer from the perspective of their participation. "The key is that we aren't putting an app in front of them to remind them to archive. They know it's happening because they are willing participants, but the nature of this is not to get in the way, not to taint the study. To get organic and legitimate content, we have to stay out of the way."

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2 comments about "New Study Follows Kids On Social ".
  1. Dan Auito from Next Century Studios , May 7, 2012 at 11:41 a.m.
    Email is definitely out the window with Gen Y (100M Born: 1985-2010) texting and posting also beats voice! With an 18 year old son now in the Coast Guard and a daughter 15 under-roof, I can say first hand that this generation is using Facebook, Twitter and Texting to communicate 90% of the time. Where’s the party? Who did what? Look at me! (Pics) are favorite pastimes, watching internet videos and downloading music are close seconds. Typical scenario around our home is Bri has the laptop open to Facebook, girlfriends in her room chattering, phone sending texts, radio on and the TV set on a tween channel for back-ground noise all the while planning the next exciting adventure outside of home base. Ah the joys of keeping up with the times! Dan Auito COO www.ncs.tv
  2. Dale Taylor from KnightTV , May 9, 2012 at 9:17 a.m.
    I couldn't agree more with Dan as it relates to 'user patterns' amongst my step-kids (15 & 11 yr old boys) & their peers. Admittedly, it drives me around the bend. Bored, non-essential engagement for the disengaged with the attention span of gnats & not knowing the intended difference between communicating & using their jaw muscles. Tools in the past usually have had some intended purpose. Now it seems that the purpose is to have the tools! Technology drives consumptive behaviour but the boys don't see it that way. The pervasive ubiquitous nature of this silent generation is the 'thumbing down' of our era....but I still drive the car, promote literacy and civility. They're coming along and maybe, just maybe I'll get there too. Perhaps physical inertia is a cover-up for fertile cerebral exercises that I just haven't uncovered yet! It all makes their incessant texting et al akin to watching paint dry that seems like a blood sport - but only to me. For Mother's Day, we are having an agreed upon thumbin' hiatus. Oh happy days! Dale E. Taylor, TV M'gyver looking for my next net!