[Air-l] teens and myspace

Nancy Baym nbaym at ku.edu
Tue Feb 28 09:40:53 PST 2006

>The "generation" concept is interesting. We had a discussion last night
>in my New Com Techs and Society class about MySpace/Facebook. My
>students are grad students, but have gone straight to grad school from
>undergrad, so they're in their early/mid 20s. They admit being
>"addicted," but also considered it a juvenile pursuit; they were
>embarrassed to say they were members of that community.
>Is Facebooking just another thing that "kids" grow out of? JS

This adds a whole other dimension to the issue -- for instance, many 
of the students I interviewed described instant messaging 
disdainfully as "so teenage" and were proud of themselves for 
maturing enough to use it less, which I think sheds a different light 
on recent findings that young people are using IM and not email.

It's the embarrassment factor that interests me. Do teens feel or 
express no embarrassment about their online socializing? If not, will 
they come to as they age or are the days of being embarrassed about 
online socializing over?

I appreciate Andrea's comments about the granularity, that it's 
differentiating amongst online pursuits that is important, rather 
than online versus offline. I do think though that this is true for 
adults as well -- adults are less embarrassed or ashamed when they 
talk about maintaining mailing lists to keep the extended family in 
touch, for instance, than they are when they talk about, say, 
spending time on discussion boards with people they don't know 
offline. For most adults though, the online/offline distinction 
(false as we net scholars know it to be) is still perceptually 
salient. If that is not the case for youth, that's really 
interesting, and does raise the question of whether it's a 
distinction that will no longer be relevant to anyone in a few years 
time, or whether they will eventually come to see a difference as 
they age and the social norms surrounding their interactions evolve 

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