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5.2 ECONOMICS AND BUSINESS
Abstract Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore why young people use and participate in social networking sites (SNS) with specific reference to Bebo. Design/methodology/approach – A qualitative approach is employed in this study with a view to exploring the uses and gratifications that girls aged 12 to 14 years, both seek and obtain from the Bebo social networking site. The research was conducted in a school setting in Ireland. Findings – The findings indicate that the participants are actively using Bebo for their own personal motives and gratifications in terms of presenting and managing a certain identity and persona in a social context. Furthermore, the relatively impersonal nature of the online environment is seen to especially facilitate the young participants in negotiating the practicalities and difficulties that can arise offline, in terms of forging identities and managing relationships. Originality/value – Uses and gratifications (U and G) theory has attracted criticism in terms of a perceived limitation that it only serves to offer lists of reasons as to why audiences attend to the media, and furthermore, a perception that much of the extant U and G research has desisted from discerning between gratifications sought and gratifications obtained. This study affirms the appropriateness of the U and G theoretical approach in the context of online research. The authors conclude that SNS such as Bebo facilitate the participants in this study in executing personal aims (for example, identity creation and management) with a view to obtaining certain gratifications (for example, peer acceptance). Therefore, a clear distinction but inextricable link is demonstrated between the gratifications sought and obtained from participating in SNS.
Dunne, A., Lawlor, M., Rowley, J.: Young People's Use of Online Social Networking Sites - a Uses and Gratifications Perspective. Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing, Vol. 4 Iss: 1, pp.46 - 58. 2010.