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Analysis of how young and older people interact using online social networks

Currently the global population is estimated at 7.04 billion, and is set to increase to 9.31 billion by 2050, with interest and awareness growing in a population which is getting older and living longer. Subsequently, several challenges arise from a greying planet, which will increase the demand upon resources. In particular, when we consider the impact that increased life expectancy will have upon the Quality of Life of older people, the risks and negative connotations concerning increased social isolation are a core issue. In coming year’s technology will play an increasing role in providing solutions to alleviate the burden of social isolation and the subsequent negative impact it holds. With the growth and prevalence of the Web technologies, in particular the emergence of Web 2.0 applications, the role of social computing is investigated. As an approach social computing holds considerable potential with research demonstrating the benefits of internet use by older users. This thesis discusses online social networking, a platform focused on increasing opportunities for social interaction, allowing those deemed socially vulnerable an opportunity to engage.., However at present two core research issues exist. Firstly, much of the research to date has studied online social networks at a macro level, whereby little is known about micro level behaviour of individual users, and in particular even less is known about the behaviour of older users in such networks. Secondly, given that it is a relatively new communication approach, little is known concerning the impact social computing has on the Quality of Life of older users, or its viability as an approach. The overall aim of this thesis was to investigate online social networks at the micro level, analysing use by the core demographic of older populations, in comparison with younger users. Four chronological studies were conducted. Study 1 investigated and contrasted the behaviour of younger and older Facebook users, determining how both populations engage. Study 2 assessed the behavioural patterns of both cohorts, detailing the patterns of user engagement for both groups. From data acquired in earlier studies, study 3 proposed a suite of new user metrics which disclose a number of user characteristics at an individual level. In study 4 the impact of interacting in online social networking services upon Quality of Life is assessed through a large scale user survey of both cohorts. These investigations propose the application of interaction analysis to disclose and detect user behaviour, determining the viability of interaction analysis as an approach. Furthermore, the impact of social computing upon the Quality of Life of users is disclosed with contrasts for each cohort presented.
Date January 2013
CreatorsQuinn, Darren
PublisherUlster University
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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