Friendship type, clique formation and the everyday use of communication technologies in a peer group
Faculty of Social Sciences. Communication Sciences
Information, communication and society. - London
, p. 1258-1277
University of Antwerp
This study focuses on teens' use of communication technologies to maintain connections with people from their everyday peer group. It departs from a pre-defined network (in a secondary school in Flanders, Belgium) and investigates how friendship type and clique formation (an important dynamic in this (micro) context) are related to face-to-face communication (FTFC) and the use of email, instant messaging, text messaging, telephone and social network sites in this network. Hypotheses/expectations were derived from network theory and (qualitative and quantitative) studies on the social affordances of communication technologies for adolescents. Data were collected among the 78 pupils of a fourth grade (1516-year-olds) in a Belgian secondary school. First, dyadic quadratic assignment procedure regression analyses were run to explain the frequency of FTFC and communication through different technologies by looking at dyad characteristics (strength of ties, number of friends in common, same sex). Second, FTFC and communication through technologies were compared for in-group versus out-group ties. The analyses show that the patterns of FTFC were sometimes reproduced (and therefore extended), and sometimes deviated from in communication through technologies. The specific function each of the studied technologies fulfilled in relation to social structure (in this network) is addressed in the discussion.