Today digital communication is a natural part of young peoples social life. It has increased drastically during the last few years, and there are still a lot of questions about what this means, and how this new media affects communication. This study focuses on young people of 11-13, i.e.the age between children and teenagers, also called tweens. In a large study, the overall aim is to see what communication in the Internet community LunarStorm means to them in their social life. This particular paper reports on the content of the asynchronous communication in the participants digital guest books, which is one of the main channels for communication between the participants.
A group of 15 tweens from a small village in Sweden were studied when communicating in Swedens largest Internet community, LunarStorm. The research method used was what is usually described as cyber ethnography. The contributions in the participants digital guest books are not written by the guest book owners themselves, which means that the focus is on the collective aspects of this communication, and not from a specific childrens point of view. Qualitative analyses were made of the content of 947 contributions in the participants guest books in order to make a statistical analysis.
Most of the participants communication was between friends in the same geographical neighbourhood concerning how things are going, what to do, when to meet and similar things. The contributions were divided into three categories: (1) Social chat (2) Chain letters, and (3) Messages incomprehensible to outsiders. The information-category was divided into three sub-categories depending on the emotions expressed. 44% of the total messages were considered as emotionally neutral information, 39% as kind or encouraging, and also with an aim to sort things out, and 6% of the total messages contained insults and elements of anger.
Among the younger users of the Internet community LunarStorm, the main reason to participate seems to be to keep in touch with already known friends. Being part of an already existing group continues and develops online. The positive tone among the participants in the community and the possibility to express difficult feelings, which have been reported on earlier from LunarStorm, still seem to be present.