Abstract – The purpose of this paper is to analyse how young people as consumers are using one particular social networking site (Bebo), and how these young consumers are engaging with discourses which position them variously as vulnerable to online risk and as members of the knowledgeable “net generation”. Design/methodology/approach – The article provides an in‐depth analysis of data collected from 24 Bebo participants, ages 14‐16, focusing mainly on interviews. Discourse analysis is used to uncover the ways that the participants in the study position themselves in relation to discourses surrounding teenagers as consumers on social networking sites. Findings – The analysis demonstrates that teenagers are using Bebo in very specific ways as part of a range of modes of communication with different audiences. Often their use of Bebo is quite banal, highlighting the possibility that adults (parents, researchers, government, NGOs) over‐invest in the meaning of Bebo for young teens. However, typical of the tensions involved in people's subject positioning, the interviewees also indicate that Bebo is serving particular purposes in relation to their identities as teenagers. Therefore, the article considers dimensions of the “life stage” of adolescence as a way of understanding the significance of Bebo in teenagers' lives. Originality/value – The article provides an in‐depth analysis of qualitative data related to a small age‐range of consumers on a specific social networking site. This focus highlights the specificity of Bebo as a social networking site, as well as the particular ways that these 14‐16 year olds engage with various technologies and discursive practices surrounding young consumers online.
Young Consumers: Insight and Ideas for Responsible Marketers – Emerald Publishing
Published: Nov 20, 2009
Keywords: Social networks; Young adults; Children (age groups); Behaviour; Consumer psychology
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