Starting a Social Networking Service (SNS) for Teens - Papers & Essays



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Starting a Social Networking Service (SNS) for Teens

Social networking services (SNS) in Japan now have 7.16 million users. With the number of users up 6.5-fold over the previous year as of March 2006, they are experiencing rapid growth (Source: Ministry of General Affairs). Japans largest SNS, mixi, is used by the 5.2 million people (October 2006) and most are in their twenties and early thirties.

A study by CRN Research on Children and the Media found that there were over 500 blogs for teenagers (May 2006). Will SNS become as popular among young people? Research on Children and the Media decided to start a SNS for teenagers to find out.

An existing SNS system has been customized to provide nearly the same functions as mixi. Partly because the SNS has been set up for research purposes, security is given higher priority over increasing the number of registered users. For this reason, the SNS requires an introduction from a currently registered member of the network. Research will focus on how teenagers use the Internet and e-mail to make friends in a virtual community such a SNS and send information.

After the Teens SNS started up in December 2006, a survey was conducted of the blog users. Questions included: Do you know what an SNS is? Do you want to join an SNS? Are you interested in joining "Teens SNS"? By the end of December, over ten had replied, and their replies were extremely interesting.

Most were familiar with SNS and interested, but did not actually want to register. Adult who did not want to register would probably not have even bothered to participate in the survey, so why did these teens take the time to carefully reply to the survey and then answer that they would not join an SNS?

The researcher in charge of this study is now interviewing young people to find out the answer to this question, but for the time being, two possibilities can be considered. First, although the SNS is operated by CRN, which is a research institute, the teens would not register because they did not feel it was secure or safe enough. Second, although they expressed an interest, they were not actually interested enough to register. In either case, we can see that young people view the Internet differently than adults do.

Teens SNS now has a several registered users. They update the journal and exchange information daily. As CRN operates the SNS on an ongoing basis and more users join, it will continue this survey/study on SNS use by young people. All those interested in receiving information on this project are welcome to contact CRN by sending the Questions and Comments to CRN form.