According to Carrington, Scott & Wasserman (2005), social networking is defined as the grouping of individuals into particular groups that centers on reflecting and building of social relations or social networks among people, for instance, people who share activities or interests. Even if social networking can be done face-to-face within the concerned individuals, especially in high schools, universities, and workplaces, it is most popularly done online. Most of the social networking is web based and allows for user interaction over the internet, for instance, instant messaging and e-mail. Social networking sites enable individuals to share, activities, ideas, interests and events in their individual networks. This kind of communication is seen very common with teens as they perceive it as being private as compared to public communication. Face-to-face communication usually brings about more satisfaction because of high degree of self-disclosure and closeness between individuals. The level of emotional understanding tends to be the same with both online and face-to-face interaction (Mallen, Day & Green, 2003).
Social networking theory:
According to Allen (2007), the social networking theory considers social relationships as nodes and ties. The nodes are the individual participants within the networks, while ties are known as the relationships between the participants. It has been found that there can be a variety of ties between given nodes. According to the social networking theory, there is a difference between social networks and the face-to-face traditional socialization. The traditional socialization assumes that the characteristics of individual actors, such as smart or dumb, and friendly or unfriendly, determines interaction between individuals. Social networking theory, offers an alternative view, which points out that the characteristics of individual participants are less important as compared to their relationships as well as ties with other participants within the network (Collins& Cattermole, 2006).
Purpose of the research:
The purpose of this research is to examine the discourse and relational variables between online and face-to-face communication to discover how initial face-to-face communication differs from online communication between given two strangers. The study will provide useful information that will contribute into the researcher's understanding regarding online communication between a client and a therapist. The first encounter of a therapist and a client is that, the two are strangers who are getting to know one another. It is usually believed that face-to-face communication is not equivalent to online communication. The research is also meant to answer the following research questions:
1. How does the recent rise of social networking affect teens' view of privacy versus public use of communication?
2. Will the participants feel equally satisfied when meeting a strange person in online and face-to-face conditions?
3. Will the participants experience an equivalent extent of closeness in online and face-to-face conditions?
4. Will the participants experience an equivalent level of self-disclosure in online and face-to-face conditions?
5. Can the participants judge each other's emotions equivalently in online and face-to-face conditions?
Proposed research approach:
My proposed research approach is a qualitative research.
Description of the proposed design:
According to Maxwell (2005) qualitative research is the system of enquiry that attempts to establish a largely narrative and holistic descriptions to enable the researcher understand about a given social phenomenon. A qualitative research design is suitable for this social phenomenon because it is conducted within natural settings with the use of interviews, documents reviews, and observations. Ritchie & Lewis (2003) argue that, in qualitative studies, a researcher is always actively involved to interact with participants, hence gathering first hand information which is reliable. Qualitative research makes use of inquiry orientation which covers many forms of inquiry (Punch, 2005). The forms of inquiry include naturalistic inquiry, field study, interpretative research, case study, ethnography, participant observation, and inductive research. These forms of inquiry facilitates understanding and explaining the significance of social phenomena with very little disturbance to the natural settings if any (Ryan, 2007).
Proposed research population:
The participants will be sixty-four high school students aged between 14 to 18 years inclusive. The degree of homogeneity as far as socio-economic status and ethnicity is concerned, will be achieved given that the target population is 90 percent White and the average household income exceeds national and state levels at $64,436. The criterion will be that, students who did not know each other previously will be put in 32 pairs and assigned to a conversation at random. The conversation will occur between two partners in either an online chat program or a face-to-face setting. Measurements of self-disclosure, emotional understanding, and closeness will be taken.
Examples of research data that may be collected:
Interviews, questionnaires and observations will be used to gather data from the participants. This will be accurate, less expensive, easier to use, and faster. Comparisons will be made with all these data collection methods to realize the reliability of data.
Social change implications:
The study will provide useful information that will contribute into the researcher's understanding regarding online communication between a client and a therapist. The first encounter of a therapist and a client is that, the two are strangers who are getting to know one another.
Other information about the proposed research:
There will be ethical considerations for the qualitative study including, making a visit to the place of study earlier enough for the researcher to introduce herself to both participants and the concerned authority such as parents or guardians, teachers, school chairman, and the school watchman. The participants are considered minors. This introduction will bring about familiarization which will be facilitated by the Head teacher of the school. Ethical protection of the participants will be a priority due the use of questionnaires as this will bring about preservation of confidentiality. There is no any other ethical consideration a part from these concerns. The research topic is not associated with any social stigma and little time will be invested without involvement of any risk.