Imaginary friends, stalking, and curating the Web: An ESL student's use of social media
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Social media is a phenomenon that has only emerged in the last few years, but has quickly become one of the principal venues for communication between individuals. Because of recent technological developments in mobile technologies, individuals can now connect with their social network anywhere and anytime. Participation in networked online communities has been so pervasive that it has started to influence many of the ways in which individuals understand themselves and the world, communicate with each other, and engage in practices such as literacy and media consumption (Thorne & Black, 2008). One of the consequences of this qualitative shift is the development of cultures-of- use that shape the ways in which learners participate in computer-mediated interaction and literacy consumption (Thorne, 2003) and that are often inconsistent with institutionally promoted practices. This mismatch could lead to a diminished effectiveness of traditional computer-mediated pedagogical practices; on the other hand, an increased awareness of existing computer-mediated practices could foster the development of pedagogies that are more effective for language learning.
This study aims to describe the social media habits of an English as a Second Language (ESL) student enrolled in an American university by employing both quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection. Results show that this student used social networks to cultivate meaningful relationships, to project a true identity to the external world, and to learn about her host culture, and that these practices were carried out with an awareness of her purposes and of each tool's culture-of-use (Thorne, 2003).