Gender, Identity, and Language Use in Teenage Blogs
David A. Huffaker
Sandra L. Calvert
Children's Digital Media Center,1 Georgetown University
This study examines issues of online identity and language use among male and female teenagers who created and maintained weblogs, personal journals made publicly accessible on the World Wide Web. Online identity and language use were examined in terms of the disclosure of personal information, sexual identity, emotive features, and semantic themes. Male and female teenagers presented themselves similarly in their blogs, often revealing personal information such as their real names, ages, and locations. Males more so than females used emoticons, employed an active and resolute style of language, and were more likely to present themselves as gay. The results suggest that teenagers stay closer to reality in their online expressions of self than has previously been suggested, and that these explorations involve issues, such as learning about their sexuality, that commonly occur during the adolescent years.
Identity is a central task that begins in infancy and ends with the culmination of one's life. Its role in adolescent development has been particularly important as youth come to know and define themselves in ways that were not possible during their childhood (Calvert, 2002). More specifically, the ability to reflect on one's own thoughts, and hence on one's self, adds a new dimension to self-discovery, particularly of one's sexual identity.
As adolescents seek to define who they are near the beginning of the 21st century, their forums for self-discovery have expanded. One place that adolescents now spend a considerable amount of time is in online settings, and these online venues, such as multi-user domains (MUDs), have been linked to identity exploration (Turkle, 1995). One of the newest venues for exploration is the weblog, a reversed-chronological online journal, which is used...