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What Are The Roles Of Information Grounds In Tweens' Lives?
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An information ground is a synergistic "environment temporarily created when people come together for a singular purpose but from whose behavior emerges a social atmosphere that fosters the spontaneous and serendipitous sharing of information" [54, p. 811]. As ED Hardy Hoodies discussed by Karen Fisher, Carol Landry, and Charles Naumer , such information-rich social settings can be analyzed or facilitated using fifteen characteristics presented in a people-place-information trichotomy.
In light of research reported by Fisher and Naumer , along with our earlier environmental scanning, we expected that tweens might have unique information grounds based on their social and developmental uniqueness. The tweens reported a variety of places that they share information, usually with their peers. The most common information grounds were school (including cafeteria, hallway, playground, and bus), shopping malls, athletic fields, community parks, home, and their neighborhoods. Less common information grounds ranged from churches and libraries to restaurants, convenience stores, and public transit. School was the most common information ground for good reason: all the tweens attended school; it is a common place to plan social activities; it is a place where opportunities to mingle and socialize are planned into the schedule, albeit with constraints.
Tweens also used school as a place to plan other opportunities to get together in person or online. In focus groups, tweens explained: "Like half of our school is in the lunchroom, so you can talk to more people," "Me and my friends at recess, we talk to each other," and "At school, we ask each other if we'll be on IM." Within schools, recess and lunch were noted as times of the school day when preteens were most likely to share information. Lauren (University) explained: "You can always do it at school. You can always do it at recess; you can always do it at lunch. You can do it after school; you can do it before school, if you got there early enough. And if they come over to your house, they can always do it there." Some tweens reported ED Hardy Boots that the school can also be a place for social interactions among ethnic groups.
This was reported most frequently in our Ministry group, who were all African American:
Tween: There are the group things. There's the table where all the Mexicans sit. And they talk Spanish most the time. And there's other tables and stuff. And like, yeah. So we just talk about stuff. So we just talk about stuff.
Interviewer: What kind of stuff?
Tween: Movies, our homework.
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