Contact Lists and Youth

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This paper explores the nature of networked contact lists in an emerging new media ecology as they relate to a population of 10 American pre-teens and teens (9-15). Mobile, gaming, and Web 2.0 services are contributing to a shift in the role of the contact list from a static visualization of a database to an active communication tool and the site of sociality. We draw in material from ethnographic research illustrating contact lists as dynamic sites for social activity, existing across multiple media channels, which evolve in time with an individual user. We then describe how contact list use by American youth (9-15) produces new understandings of accessibility, sociality, and visibility within the scope of personal relationships, mobility, and play in everyday life. We conclude with how we are informing corporate strategy on youth marketing and new product development.

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