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Stop Creeping On Me: How do Humber public relations students' notions of online privacy influence their use of social networking sites for academic and business purposes?

Andrea Tavchar, MA , Humber College

 

Today's young people are heralded as 'digital natives', native speakers of digital technology. Yet, these 'digitally native' students exhibit tension when using social media academically. Although familiar with Facebook, relatively few of my college-level public relations students ventured beyond this application to discover Twitter, LinkedIn or to blog. Keeping in touch with friends was their primary interest. They demonstrated resistance at using social media, perceived by them as a 'private' social tool, for academic or business purposes. This research project set out to determine how public relations students' notion of online privacy influenced their use of social networking sites for academic and business purposes.

The research conducted at a college in the summer of 2010 suggested that "public" and "private" may not be the most suitable distinctions of social media use. A better definition emerged that differentiated between "living technologies" (Kennedy, et. al.) to describe social-entertainment uses of Facebook and "learning technologies" (Kennedy, et. al.) such as Twitter.

Although labeled 'digital natives' because of their skills with living technologies, young people find that these skills are not necessarily valorized in the classroom or the workplace. This presentation addresses the notion that today's young people are not born speaking the language of learning technologies and that they need to be taught. I would like to demonstrate that this is one of the pressing learning innovations required in the connected 21st century world.

 

For PDF of related poster click here.

Jeremy Berry Abstract

Andrea Tavchar, MA is a public relations professor at Humber College. Teaching social media to students who have more 'friends' on Facebook and have more apps on their iPhones has been a challenge, but learning collaboratively about social media embraces what adult education is all about. A PhD student at the University of Toronto, Andrea is studying social media's impact on public relations and youth identity. Andrea received a Humber research grant to study PR students' perceptions of online privacy, exploring the tensions between social media use in entertainment, education and the workplace.

She has over 15 years of experience in public relations and business communications across a variety of industries including cable and satellite television at YTV, StarChoice Television and MTV; government; and advertising. Andrea has an MA in Adult Education, received a distinguished faculty award in 2010; and, most recently, was awarded Humber's Research Excellence Award for 2011. Andrea may be reached at andrea.tavchar@humber.ca.