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Young people under represented user group in information systems research

Our study “Digital natives in social virtual worlds: A multi-method study of gratifications and social influences in Habbo Hotel” advances the understanding of digital natives as virtual world users. The study can be summarized with four points:

  1. Digital natives are under investigated in the virtual world and Information Systems research.
  2. Teenagers’ continuous social virtual world use is predominantly hedonically motivated.
  3. Virtual world both extends existing social interactions and helps to form new ones.
  4. Digital natives naturally cross the boundary between offline life and virtual space.

Millions of teenagers today engage in social virtual worlds (SVWs). However, teenagers, often referred to as digital natives, represent an under-investigated group in the virtual world research and the Information Systems literature.

We draw on developmental psychology and the uses and gratifications approach to examine teenagers’ continuous SVW use with a multi-method approach. We first investigate role of psychological gratifications and social influences in predicting teenagers’ intention to continue using Habbo Hotel. Thereafter, to gain a deeper understanding of their in-world activities, we triangulate our findings with a structured content analysis of the respondents’ open-ended comments.

Our quantitative and qualitative findings show that the intentions to continue SVW use are predominantly hedonically motivated. Moreover, we demonstrate that inside the platform users engage in social activities that are often associated with the hedonic experience. Finally, we discuss how these activities both extend and are distinct from digital natives’ offline and online social interactions.

The full paper can be found from here and is available open access.

Bibliographic information

Mäntymäki, Matti & Riemer, Kai (2014) “Digital natives in social virtual worlds: A multi-method study of gratifications and social influences in Habbo Hotel”, International Journal of Information Management, Vol. 34, No. 2, pp. 210-220.