[Air-l] teens and myspace

T. Kennedy tkennedy at netwomen.ca
Tue Feb 28 16:48:12 PST 2006

Phew, that was a slew of emails to plod through - but what an interesting

Given that I'm researching the domestication of the internet, I'd like to
throw my 2 Canadian cents in...

I don't believe that teens problematize their internet use (whatever the
weapon of choice/fad may be) the way that we are in this conversation. Many
teens - if not most - have always had internet (within a certain demographic
of course) - it's a part of their lives; it's ubiquitous - it's invisible;
it's part of their domestic ensemble - much like the telephone, tv, and so
So while it seems that teens have appropriated internet, domesticated it -
made it their own - others are not far behind, and by others I mean the
parents of the teens. From the research I have conducted with the NetLab
research team, I see that families (in any shape or form) are integrating
internet in their daily mundane tasks - this is not surprising - whether it
be looking for recipes, information about an itchy rash, what kind of
washing machine to purchase, IMing and Webcam-ing with families overseas or
catching up on Amazing Race. 

People are less concerned about internet taking over f2f because their
experience tells them that it just doesn't happen that way, and we certainly
have enough research to support the fact that people don't replace f2f with
CMC. So the 'older generation' will soon catch up :)

So in a nutshell - I don't think teens perceive their CMC as problematic -
it's just what they do - in addition to other ways of interacting (my
favourite of course is the group of teens all standing together - and all
using their mobile phones and/or texting). This is not to say that their
experiences with internet is all positive - certainly not the case, but it's
just part of the package for them.


Tracy L. M. Kennedy
PhD Candidate -
Department of Sociology

Graduate Fellow -
Knowledge Media Design Institute 

Research Associate - 
NetLab - Centre for Urban & Community Studies

University of Toronto
725 Spadina Ave.
Toronto, ON M5S 2J4
tkennedy at netwomen.ca

-----Original Message-----
From: air-l-bounces at listserv.aoir.org
[mailto:air-l-bounces at listserv.aoir.org] On Behalf Of Nancy Baym
Sent: Tuesday, February 28, 2006 10:11 AM
To: air-l at aoir.org
Subject: [Air-l] teens and myspace

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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