The BBC reports on a Pew Internet Project study that finds that "55% of American youths aged 12-17 had accounts at sites such as MySpace and Facebook". One of the most important conclusions of the study was that the assumption that youths plastered their personal profiles for all to see was false; these young users instead were found to largely use filters and restrictive devices to protect their information from the larger population.
The study also found a difference in how the sexes use these social networking sites, with girls using them to connect to exisiting friends and boys employing them to find new connections. Interestingly for my research purposes, the study found that "these sites were most popular with girls aged 15-17 as 70% of those questioned said they had an account at one or more of the social networking sites. By contrast only 54% of boys aged 15-17 were such keen users". I have not yet seen any site posited to be more popular with boys than girls. Where are the boys online? My proposed PhD research aims to study the gendered aspects of virtual communities and to pinpoint the activities of boys online. At this point I can only guess, but I would be guessing that online gaming is still the hideaway of boys, because sociality can be linked to play.
Any boys want to reveal their favorite spots online?