Working Papers

Kids Online: A new research agenda for understanding social networking forums

Deborah Fields & Sara Grime

Date: Oct 31, 2012

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A growing number of kids at increasingly younger ages are engaging in online social networking today-a development that is leading to a surge of news stories, media attention, and economic investment. In this paper, scholars Sara Grimes and Deborah Fields argue that these shifts in usage and public discussion demand a better understanding of the ways that social networking sites mediate kids’ socializing and the opportunities and limits they place on kids’ participation, particularly for young children. 

This paper is a first step in that direction. Here we attempt to establish what we already know about kids’ social networking activities and identify key gaps in our collective knowledge of these as-yet-emerging practices. This paper also addresses the underlying question of how kids’ social networking is defined and delineated: What is it we are referring to when we talk about kids and online social networking? What technologies, activities, and platforms are involved? Who is included in this discussion, and who and what are being left out?

This paper was produced by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at the Sesame Workshop with support from Cisco Systems and the MacArthur UCHRI Digital Media and Learning Research Hub at the University of California, Irvine.