"Det hadde ikke vært mulig med avstandsforholdet uten sosiale medier" : en studie av unges bruk av sosiale medier
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This study examines how young people use social media to establish and maintain social relations. By conducting in-depth interviews with eight 17-year olds, I investigate young people’s own experiences and use of Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram. I find that different social media have different functions suitable for building and maintaining social relations. Based on the interviews, previous research and sociological theory, I focus on three topics. First, I investigate who the informants include in their networks. The data shows that the networks in the social media consists of different groups of people. While Facebook includes both weak and strong connections, Snapchat consists of close relations. On Instagram they have either one user with both near and far acquaintances, or two separate users. The second user are private, and are shared only with close friends. On this basis, I suggest that the different social media touch upon different parts of teenagers’ social network. This is the basis for understanding how teenagers both build and maintain social relations. The second topic in this thesis examines how young people are building social relations in social media. Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram are used in different ways to get in touch with new people. The social contact that occurs in social media can develop into social relations. I find that most of these new acquaintances remain in social media. Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram can help reconnecting with old acquaintances and help young people to get to know each other. I find that social media are important social arenas for young people. Lasting social relations require maintenance. The third topic is about how young people use social media to maintain social relationships. Based on the interviews, I identify six strategies: keeping in touch by conversations, giving others attention, taking initiative, highlighting friendships, keeping updated in the lives of others, and following norms. The study shows that these strategies are prominent in the different social medias. This is closely related to the functions available through the specific media. Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram play a different role in maintaining social relations.