Structured observation and participant observation are two observation research methods that are vastly employed as instruments in social research and other disciplines alike. Rather than relying on instruments like questionaries and interviews for social research, observation is a simple and easy solution that allows researchers to observe people's behaviour directly (Bryman, 2012, p272). Although both methods include observing the social behaviour of participants, there are varying advantages and disadvantages of both methods. In this easy I will demonstrate why a social researcher would use structured observation over participant observation to conduct research on the role of social media in the lives of teenagers. First, I will look at how structured observation and participant observation vary in their levels of researcher participation in the research method, this will allow us to see how the researcher would interact or not interact with the teenager participants. Secondly, I will look at the observation structures of structured observation verse participant observation and how observation structures will advantage the researcher and the research. Finally, I will look at the ethics involved with both structured observation and participant observation in how researchers can become over involved and or create bias. .
Participant Vs Nonparticipant.
While structured observation and participant observation may share similar characteristics in their methods of research, the level of researcher participation in the observations made is a clear distinction between the two. Structured observation on one hand is generally seen as a non-participant observation as to participant observation, as suggested by the name, involves the researchers participation (Bryman, 2012, p273). As defined by Bryman, non-participant observation is "a term that is used to describe a situation in which the observer observes, but does not participate in what is going on it the social setting" (Bryman, 2012, p273).