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Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Degree Program

Education (also CAGS)

Year Degree Awarded

Spring 2014

First Advisor

Dr. Kathryn McDermott

Second Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth Williams

Third Advisor

Dr. Alexandrina Deschamps

Subject Categories

Higher Education | Higher Education Administration

Abstract

The use of social networking sites appears to be a dominant fixture in the lives of college students. Recent studies estimate that over 94% of traditionally aged college students utilize social networking sites (Matney, Borland, & Cope, 2006; Salaway, Katz, Caruso, Kvavik, & Nelson, 2007: Smith & Caruso, 2010). College students’ near universal adoption and use of social networking sites is having a significant impact on how they develop identity and interact with others (Lloyd, Dean, & Cooper, 2007; Martínez Alemán & Lynk Wartman, 2009; Torres, Jones, & Renn, 2009). Studies have explored the impact of gender differences on social networking sites’ use and how students of color utilize these sites; however, research has not examined how White, gay, male college students utilize and are impacted by social networking sites (boyd, 2007; Gasser, 2008; Hargittai, 2007; Slater, 2002).

This exploratory study fills not only a critical gap in the research regarding the experiences of White, gay, male college students’ use of gay-oriented social networking sites but of college students’ use of these sites. Designed as a phenomenological study, the research consisted of a set of two semi-structured interviews. Data were collected from nine participants who attend one major research university. The two interviews and questions were designed to build rapport with the participants. The nine participants provided significant exposure to the ways that gay students utilize gay-oriented social networking sites. This study’s focus on White, gay, college men’s use of gay-oriented social networking sites makes three significant contributions to the literature: (1) explores and describes what the experience is like for these students, (2) identifies common benefits and challenges students’ experience, and (3) offers critical insights for higher education professionals, specifically student affairs administrators, tasked with providing services for gay students.

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