[Air-l] teens and myspace

Kevin Leander kevin.leander at vanderbilt.edu
Tue Feb 28 08:04:24 PST 2006

Hi Nancy and all,

In my own work with youth online (although not with MySpace) I've 
found that more than any large distinction between online and offline 
and their relative valuing, that the youth I've studied (alll heavy 
online users) often have strong opinions/ways of valuing particular 
online practices, services, and spaces. For instance, some are 
strongly critical of different forms of netspeak, or critical of 
speedrunning in gaming, or critical and fearful of chatrooms, etc. 
Anyway, among this group of case studies the moral, aesthetic, and 
social judgements about certain online practices and spaces have been 
more pronounced than the online/offline distinction.


>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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Kevin Leander, Ph.D.
Vanderbilt University

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