February 27, 2006

fear of myspace

Wired has posted a story on the MySpace backlash that may not have much news for anyone who’s been following this story, but beyond being a good recap of some of the major MySpace incidents, much of the article’s a measured digerati response to the spreading panic among parents and educators (not that one can hope many of them would read this article), complete with several quotes from danah boyd. The best point danah makes echoes something I recently realized about MySpace when thinking about why so many kids would hang out in a place with such bad decor, owned by creepy old Mr. Murdoch: it’s pretty much the online equivalent to the malls, parking lots, and dodgy clubs my friends and I hung out in.

“It looks like a teenager’s bedroom,” says Boyd. “It’s not parsable to most adults, because it’s not supposed to be for them.”

Boyd argues persuasively that MySpace is serving an important role for teens who need to interact with one another away from adults as part of the normal socialization process. “We all forget that teenage years are all about hanging out,” she says.

Teens are doing this on the internet, in part, because there are fewer public places they can claim as their own, and safety-conscious parents are more reluctant than past generations to let their kids go out into a real world unsupervised.

“Let your kids go hang out down the street with their friends, and they won’t spend so much time online,” says Boyd. “But that’s not happening.”

this just in: I’m officially old. also posted today: details on Andrew’s and Amanda’s SXSW workshop.