The fact that in chatroom interactions nothing can be taken for granted, when taken to an extreme, creates a Wonderland that can be compelling.Involvement in it can become the most ‘real’ world in which you act, as Sherry Turtle puts it, quoting one of her informants, ‘RL’ (‘Real Life’). Currently the sites where these experiments with the presentation of self are most common are in textbased chatrooms, but chatrooms are themselves changing, being linked to ‘reality TV’, becoming hybridised with SMS (text messaging) and extending into other forms.And there is dark side of illicit information, criminal activity, dangerous knowledge and harmful content.
Some of the practices adopted by these young people are surprising and counter to the conventional advice given by official authorities.
The Internet — both a public good and a danger to children Experiments with identity Advancing the argument through case study Katerina’s story Rania’s story Stefanos’ story Dimitra’s story Fivos’ story Mary’s (Dafni’s mother) story Discussion The Internet and the young Drugs and technology Harm minimisation and Internet safety?
In some cases they will use blocks and filters but these are never fully effective and they know that they need to find other ways of guiding children to safe use.
Censorship does not work in cyberspace (or works in only partial and transitory ways) and what is generally agreed is needed is education in ‘responsible use.’ This includes developing educational strategies that take account of the appeal and attraction of the Internet and supports young people in reflecting on their own practice as Internet users and the consequences of their Internet interactions on others. Generally speaking we found that the fears that young people had about the safety of the Internet differed from those of adults.
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