Thursday, February 2, 2012

Cracking Teenagers Online Code

Danah Boyd
Danah Boyd (photo courtesy of NY Times
Catching up on some reading, I found this great article about a Microsoft researcher named Danah Boyd, who is a scholar/activist/advocate for teenagers and kids online.

Here's a quote from the article:
But 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.”

My kid is not even close to be a teenager yet, but those are great insights to reflect on as he gets older.

Our tendency is to want to protect-- that's what keeps your kid safe.  But at a certain point, you need to let your kid experience pain and fear and hunger-- all the things that make us smart about being human.  I'm not suggesting that you shouldn't feed your kid or protect them-- but as Aristotle said, "All things in moderation."  And although the cell phone, episodic television, and Angry Birds had not yet been invented-- he was one deep thinking Greek guy.

Danah Boyd's website:

her twitter stream:!/zephoria

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