“Teenagers Get Undressed on the Internet”

Young People’s Exposure of Bodies in a Swedish Internet Community

Malin Sveningsson Elm 1
  • 1 Ph.D., Associate Professor, Dept. of Media and Communication Studies, Karlstad University, Sweden

Abstract

During recent years, Swedish media have paid attention to young people’s presentations of self in Internet communities, claiming that these presentations are often sexually provocative. The present study aims at investigating young men’s and women’s presentations of self in Sweden’s largest Internet community, focusing specifically on how bodies are displayed. This is done through quantitative and qualitative content analyses of the photos of 88 users. Results show differences in what parts of their bodies the young men and women show: women tend to focus on faces, while men focus on torsos. Results also contradict the image depicted by the media, as very few photos in the sample can be described as provocative. One explanation offered here concerns the specific Internet community’s lack of anonymity, meaning that the interaction is steered by the same mechanisms and social pressures at work in offline environments.

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