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How social media constricts subculture thinking of teenagers in Kuwait

Introduction

Teenagers form a subculture that is not often researched about in social media studies. Often the effects of social media are studied with respect to youth, but the specific focus on teenagers, in context of impact on their thinking processes, may be missing. With reference to teenagers in Kuwait, with the exception of some studies, there is a gap in the available literature on the impact of social media in constricting the subculture thinking of teenagers in Kuwait.

This research seeks to understand how social media impacts the subculture thinking of Kuwaiti teenagers. Kuwait is a Middle East nation, with a growing population of internet and social media users, many of whom are teenagers. Although, there are some restrictions in Kuwait with respect to internet so that specific content, such as pornography, is not accessible, by and large the perceptions about internet and social media in Kuwait is positive. Kuwait is one of the fastest growing market for information and communication technology in the Middle East. Due to this, there is easy accessibility for teenagers to both internet and social media. Therefore, the subject matter of this research is relevant and contemporary.

This research will consider the secondary literature on the subject matter and employ descriptive research methodology for the purpose of the research.

2. Preliminary Literature Review

The subculture that is formed by teenagers can be easily distinguished from the adults. In the specific context of media, teenagers form an important subculture because the attitudes, desires, motivations of these young people may differ and contrast with those of the adults. It is also seen that young people are very involved with social media, and teenagers in Kuwait are no different. The Third Arab Youth surveys in 2010 reported that about 70% of Kuwait youth were actively participating in social network sites (Kononowa & Alhabash, 2012). Therefore, the impact of social media is an interesting phenomenon with respect to the young people and teenagers.

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Kuwait information and communication technology market is characterized as one of the fastest growing in the Middle East, with about 42.4% of the population using Internet services, 34% having Facebook accounts and 2485 Internet hosts (Kononowa & Alhabash, 2012). The perceptions of people towards internet is for the most part positive in nature (Dashti, 2009). People relate to internet with economic wealth, leading the government to invest more in new information and communication technologies (Dashti, 2009). Internet censorship policies continue to exercise restraint in Kuwait and prohibit users to view websites pornographic, anti-religious, anti-tradition, and anti-security contents (Dashti, 2009). However, over time the number of internet users is growing (Dashti, 2009).

One study used the Social Media Addiction Scale (SMAS) to find the impact of social media on academic performance. The study found that the results show that the amount of time one spends using social effects academic performance in a negative way. The researcher said “The more time one spends using social media, the worse their academic performance. This suggests that the time devoted to using social media come more than likely at the expense of time that should have spent for academic purposes. Heavy users of social media probably do poorly in exams and assignments because they do not put enough time into it” (Al-Menayes, 2015, p. 92).

One research by Kandari and Al-Kashan (2001) studied the relationship of Internet with the social isolation of students at Kuwait University, with a focus on the main aspects and the social impacts of the use of the Internet among a 597 students sample of students from the University of Kuwait and found out that (47%) of the study sample of Internet users have been taught on their own without any help (Al-Khaddam, 2013).

An important study conducted into the youth, internet and subculture in the Kuwaiti society was conducted with the use of in-depth interviews with Kuwaiti teenagers. The study found that young people in Kuwait were most deeply affected by the transformations in communicative practices enabled by the Internet (Wheeler, 2003). Important within the context of internet’s impact on youth culture, is the finding that with the introduction of the internet, young people argue that they find it more enjoyable to surf the net in the evenings instead of participating in traditional social rituals. A recent regional survey found that 55% of Internet use takes place between the hours of 4:00 p.m. and 12:00 a.m., the hours when tea and home visits, or visits to the diwaniyya (male social clubs) are most likely to occur (Wheeler, 2003).

Young people in Kuwait constitute both the highest concentration of Internet users (estimated to be approximately 63% of all Internet users in Kuwait) and the largest sector of Kuwaiti society. Moreover, as argued in this article, young people's Internet practices are likely to stimulate the most significant changes in Kuwaiti society (Wheeler, 2003).

Young people are unlikely to use the Internet along with other family members (just over 10% did), which means that family ties are potentially jeopardized by Internet use. Instead, youths share their ideas and positive energies in cyberspace with people they don't know personally. While such interactions foster a positive sense of being one with the world (at least according to many students I interviewed), it also opens Kuwaiti youths to contexts in which new thinking, perhaps contrary to one's upbringing, can grow unchecked by traditional authority figures. Only 7.8% of the students surveyed by Mazeedi and Ismail were taught to use the Internet by a family member (Wheeler, 2003).

Internet has become an important part of youth sub-culture, especially as a tool for leisure and communicating with the opposite sex (Wheeler, 2003). A recent study into the use of internet by young people of Kuwait was conducted using a cross sectional survey (Kononowa & Alhabash, 2012). The study concerned multitasking habits across electronic formats. The study reported that the young people tended to watch TV while surfing the internet, showing that teenagers were comfortable enough with both formats in order to be able to use both together (Kononowa & Alhabash, 2012).

The literature review demonstrates that there is an increase in the use of internet and social media by the young people in Kuwait. This is also impacting the youth subculture of Kuwait and driving important changes in how the younger people in Kuwait interact with each other, including cross-gender interactions, which are otherwise restricted in the Kuwaiti society. Other important changes include the growing distance between the younger people and the older members of their family, because social media is used by the younger people to the point of avoiding family meetings, which were a common ritualistic part of the Kuwaiti society. However, the literature review also demonstrates that there is a lack of research into specific age groups such as those between thirteen to nineteen years of age. This research seeks to add to the existing research by filling in the gaps in the research in this specific area.

3. Research Problem and Rationale

The principal research problem that is involved in this research is related to the impact of social media on the teenagers and the subculture in Kuwait. The research conducted already in this area demonstrates that there are some negative as well as positive impacts on the young people when they use social media. Are these negative and positive impacts seen in the youth sub culture of Kuwait as well? The research problem postulates that there are some important changes that are seen in the way the young people in Kuwait interact with each other. Important changes in this interaction is seen in how youngsters interact with those of the opposite gender. These may be seen to be positive changes, as Kuwaiti society is traditionally very conservative and it is not common for young people of opposite genders to interact freely with each other. Negative changes may be seen in the growing social distance between younger people who are more involved in social media and internet and older people who may be more interested in face to face interactions with their family and friends. This may be viewed as a negative change in the youth subculture of Kuwait.

4. Research Questions

The research seeks to answer the following research questions:

  • Do the Kuwaiti teenagers show a large incidence of social media usage?
  • Does social media constrict the subculture thinking of Kuwaiti teenagers?

5. Aims and Objectives

The aim of this research is to understand the nature of impact on the Kuwaiti teenagers in the context of subculture. The objectives are:

  • To understand the nature of changes driven by the social media in the Kuwaiti young people of Kuwait.
  • To find out how social media may be changing the way young people in Kuwait perceive their society, family and peers.

6. Methodology

Research is a systematic and methodological enquiry into a decided topic for study (Collis & Hussey, 2009, p. 3). Specific research methodology and research design can be attained by first evolving a purpose and clear objective (Saunders, et al., 2012). That has been done already to some extent.

This research will be conducted in the tradition of descriptive research methodology. Descriptive research allows the researcher to obtain information, without having to test or verify the information (Monsen & Horn, 2008).

The information will be collected through secondary research methods. The research strategy involved will include searching for papers both manually as well as electronically. Journals in both print as well as electronic formats will be referred to. As a desk based secondary research, this study will consider the literature on the topic, from books and journals, in order to answer the research question. The literature review aims to discuss some of this literature on the topic.

The research methodology would allow the researcher to gather information about the existing conditions and there is no requirement for the researcher to test the information (Sevilla, et al., 2007, p. 92).

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7. Ethics

Social science research is usually complicated because it involves problems of access and ethics (Bowd & Ozerdem, 2010). However, being a descriptive research, these problems will not be seen in the present project. The ethics that are involved in this project, will be in the nature of ethical research of existing literature.

Ethics will involve use of relevant and peer reviewed scholarly work or primary research. The researcher will not use material from websites like google and Wikipedia for the research. Online resources will be used only for researching peer reviewed journals and recognised databases for statistical requirements, if appropriate.

The researcher will ensure that any original work of another author or researcher will be duly referenced and no work belonging to another researcher will be presented in the research without a proper reference.

Finally, the researcher will ensure that all the relevant material is represented in the research and the researcher will do so without bias.

8. Proposed timeline

S.No Date Stage of research

PLEASE FILL THIS AS PER THE SCHEDULE GIVEN BY THE UNIVERSITY. THIS NEEDS SPECIFIC DATES AND TIME PERIODS, WHICH WE DON’T HAVE INFORMATION ON.

9. Bibliography

  • Al-Khaddam, H. K., 2013. Impact of Social Networks on Interpersonal Communication of the Students University College Irbid Girls: Facebook as a Model. Cross-Cultural Communication , 9(5), pp. 17-22.
  • Al-Menayes, J. J., 2015. Social Media Use, Engagement and Addiction as Predictors of Academic Performance. International Journal of Psychological Studies, 7(4), pp. 86-94.
  • Bowd, R. & Ozerdem, A., 2010. Participatory Research Methods in Post Conflict Reconstruction. In: Participatory Research Methodologies: Development and Post-disaster/conflict Reconstruction. Surrey: Ashgate, pp. 123-130.
  • Collis, J. & Hussey, R., 2009. Business Research: A Practical Guide for Undergraduate and Postgraduate Students. London: Palgrave Macmillon.
  • Dashti, A., 2009. The role of online journalism in political disputes in Kuwait. Journal of Arab and Muslim Media Research, 2(1/2), pp. 91-112.
  • Kononowa, A. & Alhabash, S., 2012. When one medium is not enough: Media use and media multitasking among college students in Kuwait. Journal of Middle East Media, 8(1), pp. 1-28.
  • Monsen, E. & Horn, L., 2008. Research: Successful Approaches. s.l.:American Dietic Association.
  • Saunders, M., Lewis, P. & Thornhill, A., 2012. Research Methods for Business Students. London: Pearson.
  • Sevilla, C. et al., 2007. Reseach Methods. Florentino: Rex Printing Company.
  • Wheeler, D., 2003. The Internet and Youth Subculture in Kuwait. Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, 8(1).

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