Sunday, January 22, 2012

Teenagers Online Behavior: Get Over It

Danah Boyd, a 34 year-old, senior researcher at Microsoft Research, Cambridge, MA, sees no point in limiting young people's access to what's online. She claims that teachers, parents, P.T.A.s, and school administrators need to defer to the social changes happening offline. Teens' online lives merely mirror what they do offline and their developmental stage.

Danah Boyd Image credit: Erik Jacobs for New York Times, 1-22-12
Boyd states, in a Jan. 22, 2012 New York Times article, "Cracking Teenagers' Online Codes of Behavior": Children's ability to roam has basically been destroyed. Letting our children out to bike around the neighborhood is seen as terrifying now, even though by all measures, life is safer for kids today."

Basically, Boyd argues we need to let kids explore online. She claims that online they find information that helps them cope with issues like bullying, depression, and suicide.

As for online sexual predators, Boyd reminds us that kids are more at risk offline. For in fact, most predators are ones the children know: "The vast majority of sex crimes against kids involve someone that the kid trusts, and it's overwhelming a family member." Perhaps, our energies need to be redirected there, and we need to allow children to find advice online from professional counselors--a point that Boyd makes in support of Internet access.

Boyd is a long-time scholar and researcher in the field of youth culture. She holds a degree in computer science from Brown, earned a master's from the Media Lab at M.I.T., and  earned at Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkley, from the School of Information. Boyd can be followed on Twitter. @Zephoria. She also has host of scholarly papers available, where else, but online.

Check the New York Times article. Do you agree with Boyd that we should give teens full access to the Internet? Do you agree it is time to stop blocking sites, some of which may be helpful to teens today? What points in the article ring true? With which do you disagree?


andrea said...

After reading this article I was left with conflicted emotions. Although I understand that searching the internet could be seen as today's way of riding your bike around the block, I'm not sure I agree completely with this author's stance on the issue. The author states that teens today can get advice and information off of the internet that can help them with social issues. However, much of the content on the internet is incorrect and often has a mature tone that is inappropriate for young teens. I have often stumbled upon information that was incorrect on the internet and I believe many teens today take this information as true fact without questioning its validity. I think if teens were taught how to recognize if a site was valid or not, I would feel more comfortable recommending they be allowed to use it.

Jamee Freitag said...

Teaching in a middle school has caused me to really understand how students are using the internet today. I cannot state for all teens, but, in my demographic area, they are using the internet inappropriately. Posting racy pictures and exploring adult sites are a norm for these students. Profanity is a constant. They see these things on the internet and assume that they are okay within their school lives. I think that students should have the freedom to explore the web if they do it appropriately; however, that is not what is happening at this time. In general, I feel as though students need to be taking a technology course at a young age. They need to learn the proper way to use the internet and which areas to steer away from. And again, this is only in my demographic area, but most students are not reaching out to the internet for advice, help, or therapy.

AWoronick said...

Personally, I agree with the author of this article, we shouldn't be limiting our teenagers' access to items online. Truth is, you tell a teenager they cannot do something and the first they do is exactly what you said they couldn't do.

It is important, however to ensure that we teach our children (from a very young age,) how to use these tools responsibly. Remind them of their digital footprint and how important it is to be mindful of what they post.

I know first-hand how important this can be considering a student of mine is facing some major consequences for some threatening remarks he made on a social media network. Though it happened off school grounds, because it involved two students at the school (and more who had seen the posts,) it has become a school issue. While we cannot know for sure if it would help, pro-active education about responsible use of social media sites may have been a key factor in preventing this incident.

Mary Beth Cadieux said...

I agree with the previous posts, as I too was left with mixed emotions. I think stuents should be permitted to be explore, research, and utilize the internet. However, it is important that we as adults provide limits, just in the way we don't like kids drink and play with knives, quit school when they have a bad day in middle school or drive a car before they are 16. As adults we need to have the kids' best interest in mind, because they are still developing. I think that it is important to teach the importance of responsible technology use and the repercussions of a digital footprint. Just because technology is changing they way we learn does not mean that common sense needs to be adandoned.

Rachel Cocola said...

I too was left with mixed feelings about this article. There were certain statistics that I was surprised by and I wondered where they came from, especially the statistic that bullying is not on the rise. I know that this article is not current events any more but I find it hard to believe that online bullying has not been on the rise in the past few years. I agree with Mary Beth in that we must teach out students what it means to be a responsible digital citizen and that their digital footprint will last. In this same way, I think students should be aware of the dangers of the internet, but they can truly find those on almost any website and we cannot prevent our children from exploring the internet for fear that they will come into contact with a predator. The final point I would like to make is that I was impressed with the idea that students might benefit from online counseling or talking to an adult out in cyber space. Sometimes people feel more comfortable behind the veil of their computer screen and teens and young adults might be more willing to open up. In fact, I completely agree with the author on this point and I think we should emphasize the availability of help and counseling online.