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Tuesday, July 28 • 10:31 - 12:00
"The Impact of Social Networking Apps On Malaysian Secondary School Students: Attitudes, Behaviours And Risks"

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Authors: Siew Ming Thang, Adzuhaidah Taha, Noorizah Mohd Noor and Lay Shi Ng

Social networking (SN) has become part of the daily life of teenagers nowadays. They represent a pervasive technology that can result in unintended consequences, such as threats to privacy and changes in the relationship between public and private sphere. These concerns have led to a call for increase understanding of the attitudes and behaviors toward ‘‘privacy-affecting systems’ (Iachello & Hong, 2007, p. 100). This paper is also interested to find out the extent that teenagers in Malaysia understand the seriousness of privacy invasion when they are SN. Specifically it investigates: 

(1) How important is SN to Malaysian teenagers? 
(2) What role does it play in their social life?
(3)To what extent are they aware of the risks involved and how do they handle these risks?

Literature Review
Conceptual Framework
The conceptual framework of this paper combines two media theories that is the ‘‘uses and gratifications’’ theory (Blumler & Katz, 1974; LaRose,Mastro, & Eastin 2001; Rosengren, Palmgreen, & Wenner, 1985) and the theory of ‘‘ritualized media use (Debatin, Lovejoy, Scripps, Horn & Hughes, 2008). These two media theories are used as the analytical background and framework to explain and contextualise the findings. 

Risks of SN
The risks discussed here are those investigated in this study. (1)Cyberbullying is described intentionally using digital media to communicate false, embarrassing, or hostile information about another person (O’Keefe & Clarke-Pearson, 2011). (2) Texting can also be used to bully or humiliate people by sending messages or uploading upsetting messages and images. (3) Unwanted online sexual solicitation is defined as “the act of encouraging someone to talk about sex, to do something sexual, or to share personal sexual information even when that person does not want to” (Ybarra, 2007). (4) Exposure to illegal content and privacy violation. 

Research Instrument 
Three types of research instruments were used: 
1)A form that elicited students’ personal background information as well as their SN habits.
2)Open-ended questions to elicit students’ SN experiences. 
3)7 scenarios depicting situations involving the negative consequences of using SN Apps which include danger of sexual exposure (scenario 1), privacy violation such as online identity theft (scenarios 2) and hacking (scenario 3), online sexual solicitation (scenario 4), texting (scenario 5), illegal content (scenario 6) and cyberbullying (scenario 7). 

Ethical Consideration
It is now a standard requirement for researchers in Malaysia to obtain permission from the Ministry of Education before commencing research in schools. However due to a lack of time, it was decided it would be sufficient if permission could be obtained from school principal for the preliminary study. Since one of the researchers is a teacher at the School, permission was given with the provision of a letter from the University. The interviews were all conducted in the school premise and students were required to sign a letter of consent and assured of anonymity. Application to the Ministry of Education for permission to undertake the research project on a larger scale has been undertaken. 

Research Procedure 
The four students began by completing the form eliciting their personal background and SN habits. After that they were asked to give their views on the benefits and problems in using such sites and their reactions towards each scenario. 

Data Analysis 
The data were analysed for patterns and themes in line with the research questions and the conceptual framework. 

Background Information of Students 
This preliminary set of interview was conducted on Four Form 4 (16 years old) Malay female students from an elite, residential school. The interview which took 55 minutes was conducted in English and transcribed in verbatim. The students all obtained a minimum of six distinctions in the Secondary Three Assessment including in English. They come from upper middle class families with parents who are either professional or business personnel. All of them are active uses of the internet as well as SN (SN) sites which include Friendster, Myspace, Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp, Ask fm, Wechat, and Instagram. 

Presentation and Discussion of Findings
1) How important is SN to Malaysian teenagers? 
The students are all active users of SN sites. On the whole they believe that SN enriches their lives and help them to be in touch with their friends and family members all the time. Despite their stressful and emotional experiences with SN they are not willing to give up using the SN and are prepared to face the negative consequences involved in SN. SN satisfies their needs according to the gratifications theory. It offers them diversion and entertainment, enable them to make online friends and also help them to learn more about themselves. Thus, it can be said that they are more exposed, more mature and wiser because of the experiences with SN which will enable them to handle the real world better when they leave school. This is important to these students as they live in the residential colleges and live a very sheltered life. 

(2) What role does it play in their social life?
The students are very aware of the risks involved in SN and though SN can be described as a ritual in their lives they do take every step to protect themselves against the risks posed by SN as well as to safeguard themselves against personal hurt that can arise from active participation. 

(3)To what extent are they aware of the risks involved and how do they handle them?
Like teenagers in western countries students in School A are aware of most of the risks involved in SN. They have also experienced the negative consequences of texting which has caused them a great deal of anxiety and stress. This has made them more cautious about what they write in the SN sites which actually educate them on the negative effects of texting as otherwise they may not be less aware of the negative consequences of texting (Lenhart, Ling, Campbell & Purcell, 2007). 

This research project is funded by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).

Blumler, J. G., & Katz, E. (Eds.). (1974). The uses of mass communication: current perspectives on gratifications research. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Debatin, J., Lovejoy, P., Scripps, E.W., Horn, A., & Hughes, B.N. (2009). Facebook and online privacy: attitudes, behaviors, and unintended consequences. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. 15(1), 83–108. 

Iachello, G. & Hong, J. (2007). End-user privacy in human–computer interaction. Foundations and Trends in Human–Computer Interaction, 1(1), 1–137.

LaRose, R., Mastro, D., & Eastin, M. S. (2001). Understanding internet usage: A social-cognitive approach to uses and gratifications. Social Science Computer Review, 19(4), 395–413.

Lenhart, A. (2007). Cyberbullying. Retrieved from: http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2007/Cyberbullying.aspx.

O’Keefe, G.S., & Clarke-Pearson, K. (2011). The impact of social media on children, adolescents and families. Pediatrics. .127(4), 800-804. Retrieved from: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/127/4/800.full

Rosengren, K. E., Palmgreen, P., &Wenner, L. A. (Eds.). (1985). Media gratification research:Current perspectives. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

Ybarra, M.L., Espelage, D.L., & Mitchell, K.J. (2007). The co-occurrence of Internet harassment and unwanted sexual solicitation victimization and perpetration: associations with psychosocial indicators. Journal of Adolescent Health. 41(S6), 31-41.

Tuesday July 28, 2015 10:31 - 12:00
(9th Floor) TRS 3-176 (Ted Rogers School of Management) 55 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON M5G 2C3

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