[Air-l] teens and myspace

Nancy Baym nbaym at ku.edu
Tue Feb 28 07:10:33 PST 2006

I have a question for those of you working with youth culture, 
particularly but not just around MySpace.

I have been interested recently by what I perceive as a gap between 
the ways in which most of us *use* the internet socially (ie, often 
without big issues about it) and the way we *think* about using the 
internet socially (ie, a poor substitute for more meaningful 
face-to-face interaction). Recently a number of adults have said to 
me that this gap between action and perception, which they 
acknowledge in themselves, is completely gone with teens, what with 
myspace and all.

My question is whether youth really perceive their online 
communication to be completely non-problematic compared to 
face-to-face communication, or if even amongst teens there is a sense 
that it might be a little pathetic or embarrassing to use the 
internet socially (even amongst those who do). Is the stigma around 
online socializing really completely gone for youth? Of course, 
adults always perceive kids as way better and more comfortable with 
the net than they are, which makes me wonder if this sense that kids 
have no sense of stigma is adult perception vs youth reality.

Thanks for your thoughts,

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