Teen Blog Assignment Rationale: Research indicates that 51% of the six million people who were actively blogging in 2004 were adolescents between the ages of 13 and 19 (Nussbaum, 2004). Blogs serve as on-line journals, places where the author can make commentaries and upload photos. Blog authors update their blogs daily, weekly, or monthly (Mazur, 2006). The blog, for many teenagers, is a “public record of one’s private thoughts” (Mazur, 2006; pp. 180). Thus, they may be a way to explore life’s major issues in the context of their identity development (Dunkel, 2000). Adolescent blogs may be an excellent source for learning about real life adolescents without having to worry about teens censoring their answers or concealing information in an interview setting. Furthermore, compared to generic web-pages, blogs “have voice and personality. They’re human” (Grossman, 2004, p. 66). However, bear in mind that your sample may not be completely representative of all adolescents. For example, low income African Americans are less likely to blog than other groups of adolescents (Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2004). Activity Goals: 1. Examine teen blogs as a primary source of information about the everyday lives and experiences of adolescents in 2008. 2. Analyze teen blogs as a specific type of media. Assignment Requirements: 1. Read at least six different individual teen blogs, and read at least two entries for each person. Get your blogs from at least three different sources (because each source attracts a different sort of user and has different sort of feel (style) and tone). Thus, you should have two different blogs from each site (and you will read at least four entries at each site). (Blogs can be found at: DeadJournal.com, Diaryland.com, Freeopendiary.com, Livejournal.com, My-diary.org, Teenblogs.student.center.org, among others). 2. List each blogger’s name or log-on name and the blog cite you found the blogger (e.g., ladybug: LiveJournal.com)(2 points) 3. Collect any available demographic information from each of the six authors: Age, gender, school attending, grade, ethnicity, and other demographic information. (3 points) 3. Collectively (i.e., a review/summarize across all 12 entries you read – do not describe each blog entry independently – look for themes and commonalities), analyze the blogs for the information listed in (a) – (e). REMEMBER, you must address each issue or question listed in (a) – (e). Note for example that (a) asks for you to address 7 issues that are related to Media Context. For (c) and (e) you must state whether you saw evidence of the issue or language type, state if it was frequent or only by one of two people, and provide examples. If no one listed it or used the language type must state that explicitly. (For example: “Of the six bloggers, all talked about leisure activities, usually it was hanging out at the mall for the girls and playing video games for the boys. Two people, one male and one female, both younger adolescents, discussed time pressure issues. In one case it was having too many social events (the girl) and in the other it was a job that interfered with time for homework. No one discussed feeling pressure to succeed or any competition” This should be done for all the items in (c) and (e) in this kind of format.) (a) Media Context: Why do teens blog? What are the appeals and drawbacks for both the reader and the author? Are blogs a trend/fad or will they stand the test of time? How do blogs factor into teen media use, especially computer use? Why might some teens choose to blog and others do not? What are implications for adolescent safety on the internet? If this is communication that transcends geography, does it have an impact on peer social relationships, interactions, and social groups/networks? (5 points) (b) Blog Presentation: What is the veracity of some (any, all) of the statements made in the blog (e.g., “I was asked to model for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition after they saw me win a chess championship, but I had to say no because my dad wanted me to go on an ecological vacation to Belize”). If it is not true, could these statements be lying, exploring possible selves, and/or presentation of a false self? (5 points) (c) Blog Content: look for and note information about any of the following: (5 points) I Media Use: what books, magazines he/she reads, what he/she watches on TV, what are his/her favorite bands/singers/music genre, what movies does he/she watch, and computer use/activities. II Leisure activity (weekdays and weekends) III Social activities with friends and peers IV Dating/romantic relationships (including sexual activity) V Employment VI Drug and alcohol use VII Peer pressure, popularity issues VIII Time pressure, feeling over-scheduled or over-worked IX Relationships with parents X Feelings about school (homework, cheating, relationships with teachers) XI Feeling pressure to succeed, competition to be the best XII Worries, fears, major concerns (personal, local, state, national, international) XIII Future plans (work, travel, college) post high school, hopes, dreams for the future XIV Extra curricular activities (band, sports, yearbook, etc.) (d) Blog Style: “dramatics”, “inconsistent thought processes”, “diversity of experience” (e.g., low risk youth, high risk youth, sheltered, experienced in the world) and “diversity of presentation style” (e.g., chatty, terse, open/revealing, careful and reticent). (5 points) (e) Blog Language: Look for, and note the words and their frequency, any of the following types of language use. (5 points) I “Slang” or teen “lingo” (e.g., hella, phat, peeps) II Rapport: Words that express an affinity toward similarities among a group of people III Diversity: Words that express non-conformity or heterogeneity. IV Exclusion: Words that express social isolation V Liberation: Words that express a rejection of social standards VI Aggression: Words that express competition or forceful action, including terms that imply physical energy or domination. VII Accomplishment: Words that express the completion of a task, or methodical human Behavior and pride in that behavior VIII Communication: Words that express social interaction, including face-to-face or mediated modes, such as a film or telephone. IX Cognitive Terms: Words that express "cerebral processes", including discovery, psychology, logic, mental challenges, or learning practices. X Passivity: Words that express inactivity, compliance, or docility. XI Tenacity: Words that express confidence and totality XII Collectivity: Words that express social groupings such as a crowd or a world. XIII Ambivalence: Words that express hesitation or uncertainty. This includes hedge phrases, vagueness, confusion, self-doubt. XIV Self-Reference: Words that express first-person references, e.g. I, I'd, I'll, me, my, mine Dunkel, C. (2000). Possible selves as mechanisms for identity exploration. Journal of Adolescence, 23, 519-529. Grossman, L. (2004, June 21). Meet Joe Blog. Time, 163, 64-70. Mazur, E. (2005). Online and writing: Teen blogs as mines of adolescent data. Teaching Psychology, 32(5), 180-182. Nussbaum, E. (2004, January 11). My so-called blog. New York Times Magazine, pp.32-37. Pew Internet & American Life Project (2004, June 7). Demographics of internet users. www.pewinternet.org/trends/DemographicsofInternetUsers.
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