Teenagers and social network sites: Do off-line inequalities predict their online social networks?

  • June Ahn University of Maryland, College Park
Keywords: Youth, Teenagers, Social Network Sites


This study analyzes a data set of 701 U.S. teenagers (ages 12-18) that merges an online survey of social network site (SNS) preferences with administrative records from their public school districts. Using a multinomial logistic model, I examine whether offline divides across gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, self-esteem, and social capital predict teenagers’ membership into the popular SNSs, Facebook and Myspace. The results show that the characteristics of teens that use Facebook, Myspace, or both SNSs show distinct differences, which illuminate questions of digital divide and complex adolescent social practices as they relate to online participation. The study offers two main contributions by providing an analysis of: (a) teenage SNS users, a population that is less examined in the research literature of online communities; and, (b) the relationship between their off-line characteristics and online social networks.

Author Biography

June Ahn, University of Maryland, College Park
Dr. June Ahn is an Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland, College Park. He holds joint appointments in the College of Information Studies and College of Education. His research focuses on the impact of social technologies on young people?s social development, learning, and education. He also explores the social informatics of technology use in education settings, or how institutional policies, culture, and practices interact with new media tools to create technology-enhanced learning environments.
How to Cite
Ahn, J. (2011). Teenagers and social network sites: Do off-line inequalities predict their online social networks?. First Monday, 17(1). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v17i1.3752