Date of Award

Fall 2000

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Garner, Ana C.

Second Advisor

Thorn, William

Abstract

One of the online discussion groups I belong to includes people from around the globe. I regularly read opinions from Australians, Germans, and Brazilians. As a young man in the 1960s and 1970s I never imagined a time when ordinary people like me would have access to communication devices that would link us to other ordinary people most any where in the world. But today the formerly unimaginable is used without a moment's awe particularly by young people whose experience with the world has never been without the World Wide Web. Technology of the Internet is in the process of transforming our planet into a global village as people of far flung cultures learn to know and appreciate each other. It provides access to an astounding amount of information. The Internet educates and entertains. It's become a vehicle for friendships and love. Yet it has yet to gain a proportionate scholarly interest in the academic community. This study investigates one facet of Internet communication. I am interested in what attracts teen-agers to online magazines (ezines). I have isolated and studied two factors: socio-emotional content and presence. Socio-emotional content is that part of communication that conveys emotion, feelings - the "stuff' from which relationships are made. Presence is a feeling of being caught up in the communication medium one is enjoying. It's the phenomenon that prompts movie goers to scream at appropriate times and novel readers to screen out whatever is happening around them. This study demonstrated that teen-agers are more attracted to online magazines that generate higher levels of socio-emotional content and that create an environment where a sense of presence can be fostered.

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