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Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(3), 74; doi:10.3390/socsci6030074

It’s Not Real Until It’s on Facebook: A Qualitative Analysis of Social Media and Digital Communication among Emerging Adults in College

Department of Sociology, Social Work and Anthropology, Christopher Newport University, 1 Avenue of the Arts, Newport News, VA 23606, USA
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Received: 19 April 2017 / Revised: 19 June 2017 / Accepted: 10 July 2017 / Published: 13 July 2017
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Abstract

Emerging adults are encountering a developmental stage in a polymediated world that brings autonomy, intimacy, and identity to the forefront of their transition from adolescence to adulthood. This study focuses on traditionally-aged college students who are deeply immersed with digital technology and communication as a primary method to communicate and interact with peers, partners, teachers, and family members. To understand the relationship between digital communication and emerging adulthood, researchers facilitated a qualitative study grounded in ethnomethodological and dramaturgical perspective to uncover the unique ways in which college students make sense of their social media during this developmental time period. Data collection occurred through nine focus groups; in all, 44 undergraduate students participated. Findings illustrate four relevant patterns to the development of emerging adults: a key rationale for use among participants that is tied to both ritualized behavior and institutional constraints; the importance of autonomy with their digital communication use that is often stifled by parental access to their mediated lives; the presentation of an identity that is rooted in norms of acceptable use; and the importance of digital communication to the development and maintenance of connections to family, friends, and intimate partners. Implications for further research are discussed. View Full-Text
Keywords: polymediation; social media; digital technology; digital communication; emerging adulthood; college students; ethnomethodology; dramaturgy polymediation; social media; digital technology; digital communication; emerging adulthood; college students; ethnomethodology; dramaturgy
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Russett, J.; Waldron, L. It’s Not Real Until It’s on Facebook: A Qualitative Analysis of Social Media and Digital Communication among Emerging Adults in College. Soc. Sci. 2017, 6, 74.

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