The objective of this research project is to distinguish whether or not there is a correlation between the amount time spent on social networking sites and a person’s self-esteem, and whether this changes with age. It also aims to collect and analyse data in order to find out whether gender and age also influence the usage of social networking sites. The main reason for this study is that over the past decade, there has been a huge increase in the availability of social networking sites to the public, and they have become increasingly popular in recent years (Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2012). This study aims to find out if social networking sites have an effect a person’s self-esteem and to find out whether age and gender have and influence on the use of social networking sites. There has been very little research into this area, especially in Ireland.
According to Castells (2000) a technological revolution began to take place towards the end of the 1900’s. This revolution, which was based around information technologies, began to change and speed up the material basis of society. Although human beings have been establishing social networks since at least the beginning of speech, now there are more ways for people to create these social networks. A network can be described as a collection of links between elements of a unit (Dijk, 2006, p.24-25).
Social networking sites are just one example of the new ways available to people which allow them to create networks. According to Meena, Mittal & Solanki (2013) social networking sites are virtual communities where users can create individual public
profiles, interact with real‑life friends and meet other people based on shared interests. Some common examples of such sites are Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Like everything else, there are both positives and negatives to social networking sites, and the literature review is going to analyse previous studies that have been carried out in order to examine what these positives and negatives are, how age and gender effect the use of social networking sites and the effects social networking sites have on the individual including their self-esteem. Author Keywords: Social networking sites, gender differences, self-esteem