Sunday, January 22, 2012

Danah Boyd: "The first anthropologist...from the tribe she's studying"

Cracking Teenagers' Online Codes.  (The New York Times, 1/20/2012)

ExcerptBut as Dr. Boyd sees it, adults are worrying about the wrong things.

Children today, she said, are reacting online largely to social changes that have taken place off line.

Children’s ability to roam has basically been destroyed,” Dr. Boyd said in her office at Microsoft, where a view of the Boston skyline is echoed in the towers of books on her shelves, desk and floor. “Letting your child out to bike around the neighborhood is seen as terrifying now, even though by all measures, life is safer for kids today.”

Children naturally congregate on social media sites for the relatively unsupervised conversations, flirtations, immature humor and social exchanges that are the normal stuff of teenage hanging-out, she said.

“We need to give kids the freedom to explore and experience things online that might actually help them,” she added. “What scares me is that we don’t want to look at the things that make us uncomfortable. So rather than see what teenagers are showing us online about bullying and suicide and the problems they’re dealing with and using that information to help them, we’re making ourselves blind to it."