La socialità mediata. Strategie e modalità comunicative degli adolescenti tra online e offline
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This article analyses the online consumption styles and social relations of adolescents based on the integration of online and offline contexts, accounting for age and gender differences. With respect to this theme, the more recent national and international literature has considered the distinction between ‘real world’ and ‘virtual world’ anachronistic. Current studies consider online and offline spaces not as exclusive worlds to choose from but as two absolutely ‘real’ sides of the same experience. The use and consumption styles of digital media represent high-tech bricolage forms for young people, and communication and online socializing among peers seem to play a positive role in the development of social skills and the sense of identity for adolescents. Moreover, numerous empirical findings highlight an overlap between offline and network-mediated relationships, which tend to integrate traditional social behaviour rather than increase or decrease it. Starting from this theoretical framework, the quantitative research project “Young people and digital media within and outside the school: practices, relationships and sociality” – carried out in collaboration between the universities of Genova, Milano Bicocca, Padova and Salerno – involved a sample of 771 second and fourth grade high school students. The survey was carried out through the administration of a questionnaire in the urban and extra-urban contexts of Como, Genoa, Padua and Salerno. Schools and classes were selected via purposive sampling involving the following upper secondary schools: lyceums, technical institutes and vocational institutes. The results presented in this article focus specifically on the network’s use types and on online and offline relational modes. The findings show how the network is perceived in a multidimensional way by the young respondents, declined as an extension of face-to-face relations, a way to discover new things about known people, a recreational digital space, an expansion of knowledge opportunities and, finally, a place for social experimentation. As for the specific theme of the mediated sociality, in line with what emerges in previous studies, the results seem to confirm that the relations mediated by the network are not a substitute for face-to-face relationships. Rather, they represent an extension for getting in touch with friends and the peer group in order to share different activities and interests.
keywordsNew media; adolescents; social relations; consumption lifestyle.
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