So Amina Arraf, “gay girl in Damascus,” was actually a straight man from Georgia, USA, living in Scotland. “We could not make this up,” wrote reporter Monica Hesse in the Washington Post. But regardless of how many similar Internet fictions she points to and how great her writing is, this is very unlikely to be your children’s Internet, parents – just enjoy the story. How can I say that? Because for most kids the Internet is a very social experience, Facebook is the focus of that sociality, and the context of what happens on Facebook is school, not the Internet. Though this is research-based it’s also just logical. For generations, kids’ social lives have revolved around school and, increasingly secondarily (as they grow) family life, and the same goes, now, for their online sociality. Anonymity can be a factor but not the dominant one. Remember the famous 1990s New Yorker cartoon with the caption, “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog”? Well, that was more the Net (and the worry) of the ’90s. Today the prevailing experience (and worry) was better summed up in Slate in 2006 with “On the Internet, everybody knows you’re a dog” (though I feel about the same way about the article under that subhead as I did about Bill Keller’s hand-wringing at the New York Times recently). Certainly “everybody knows you’re a dog” brings its own problems that we need to work through and there has never been a greater need for media-literacy instruction, but our children are better than we usually give them credit for at distinguishing between fact and fiction, sincerity and deception, in their online experiences just as at school, and if we’re not sure we can tell the difference when we look at their Facebook profiles, we should ask for their help. Of course, if you have a kid at your house who can develop the kind of fan base “A Gay Girl in Damascus” had, s/he should definitely read the Post story – and a lot more – about how to negotiate the implications of being a child with that much talent.
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NetFamilyNews – by Anne Collier
- Mobile rules in the US now too
- What are we really seeing in the social media fishbowl?
- Spoiler alert: Kid loves teaching Twitter to Dad
- At the IGF: Youth participation = greater youth e-safety
- Enabling peer protection: Knowledge is empowerment
- Millennials’ changing social media use: Survey
- Heard of Twitch? Amazon has!
- Dealing with the nasties online
Analysis & News – by Larry Magid
- High school kids show strong support for First Amendment
- UN bringing child rights into the digital age
- IGF attendees complain about censorship in Turkey while some advocate it for youth
- Internet Governance Forum topics include human rights, network neutrality and child protection
- Protecting children online needs to allow for their right to free speech
- It’s time for schools to upgrade both technology and pedagogy
- Why Google (and Facebook) should admit kids under 13
- As Ferguson struggles, Georgia teens create app to rate police departments