Onto week 2 on Childhood in a Digital Age from the OU.
Video: Children’s Development
How is digital technology changing children’s relationships and shaping their online identities? Looking at online/offline relationships and connectivity – what is it doing to children’s development, and what’s positive/problematic ‘compared to’ face-to-face relationships.
Video: Homo Interneticus
Drawing upon the work of Aleks Krotoski, Susan Greenfield, and Sherry Turkle, I think this is a segment of ‘The Virtual Revolution‘ (2009 or 2010?), but for some reason the video’s aren’t playing, so I’m drawing on the transcript!
- Episode opens focusing on fears that we will become screen-dominated creatures, detached from ‘the real world’.
- Charlie Leadbetter describes this as a middle-age, middle-class panic, whilst Aleks seeks to understand if the web is really trivialising our relationships.
- Susan Greenfield is a strong voice behind ‘the internet is not real’, that actions don’t have consequences. [As online/offline condenses surely this becomes even less of a truth]
- Kids interviewed about life before the internet think it must have been ‘really boring’, and that people must have ‘read books’. [All repeated messages that help increase fears.]
- Sherry Turkle – the seductiveness of the real-time update loop, seeking validation for what we are doing/sharing.
- Aleks Krotoski – we have little time on our own, both producing acres of micro-content, and consuming the content of others.
- Stephen Fry “This is astounding technology; we should just take a moment to celebrate the power and the reach that it gives us across time and across ideas, and across continents both past, future and present to connect with people.”
“Children thrive on forming connections with other people in their immediate social environments, and psychological theories have consistently reinforced the importance of children’s social and cultural environment in allowing them to communicate and interact successfully.”
Article: Social media: positive, negative or just different?
Linked to a 2012 article ‘The Effects of Social Media on Children‘
- Creation, interactivity, learning
- Connectivity with peers (especially for those who are shy)
- Connectivity with those with similar (niche) interests
- Support and advice in the challenging TV years
- Positive change – e.g. political/social change campaigns
- Mental health, and social interaction
- Cyberbullying, by those known and strangers
- Privacy issues
- Advertising influence
- Need to use in moderation
Article: Assessing Positives & Negatives
via this Huffington Post article.
- Time & distance have been reduced (between communications), and this has implications for children’s social and emotional development.
- Maintain friendships & strengthen family ties
- Deeper insight into children’s lives (esp in the ‘grumpy teenage’ years)
- Shy children – find those with similar interests
- Promote inventiveness & creativity
- Potential for increased empathetic connection
- Exposed to wider range of people/risks (may not be emotionally developed enough to deal with e.g. trolling, cyberbullying, sexting)
- Lacking in maturity and judgement – more at risk of marketing, inappropriate contact, ‘addiction’ and identity theft
- Video games & violence (what direction is the causality?)
- Narcissism (again, which comes first, tech of personality?)
- Lack of research over a long time-frame
Article: Friendship Made Easy?
With access to a wider range of connections, is it really changing the nature of children’s friendships:
Friendships made through coincidence and proximity may offer a different experience to online friendships. Virtual friendships cut across boundaries and can be more immediate so being online is creating a different type of friendship requiring a new skill set.
Video: What is a friend?
Robin Dunbar = Dunbar’s number – is it possible to only have 148 friends, or is it even less? How do you define friend? How much time/geographically, how long do you remain connected?
See also ‘The Limits of Friendship‘
Article: Play in an Online World
See Lydia Plowman video – allow children to explore with parental guidance. It’s not just about educational benefits, but also space for play (should this be allowed independently?)
Article: What is a Virtual World?
A range of definitions, including platforms such as Moshi Monsters, Club Penguin, Habbo Hotel – which makes many parents feel safer in allowing their children to play (platforms stress the safety aspects of the site, the moderation, etc), rather than on the more general social networks [which legally, under 13, they shouldn’t be on]. Many buy into the idea of ‘educational games’…
Article: Forming an Identity
Do online spaces allow children the space to experiment, creating/reinventing their online identity, etc.
Children identified freedom, self-expression, creativity and interaction as essential ingredients of a virtual world. They wanted an avatar which reflected their religion, culture and interests and they wanted a space away from adults where they could play with their identity through dressing up, could exchange views with others and could ‘rehearse having responsibility for looking after things’ (Jackson et al., 2008, p. 46).
Article: Experimentation and the Virtual Self
Exploration of identity, especially in younger years, is nothing new, but virtual/online worlds are offering new opportunities, through a range of avatars, etc. playing with aspects of their identity, from appearance to politics.
Article: Identity and Social Behaviours
Optimists – freedom to explore; pessimists – misrepresentation (whether intentionally or not):
Palfrey and Gasser (2008) suggest that children do not distinguish between their ‘online’ and ‘offline’ identities. Increasingly, the identity of just about anyone living in a digital era is a synthesis of real-space and online expressions of self.
Be aware of inbuilt restrictions – e.g. is not a free space to create new identities, as still restrained by their offline world, and the content that friends post about them. A ‘disclosure decision model’ balances what is given, with what is received, whether that is social approval, intimacy, or relief of distress.
Article: Navigating the Digital Landscape
Summarising the ways that children’s lives are being impacted, positively and negatively, by the digital.