I get asked lots of questions (from parents) about how teens use the Internet. Typically, the questions are phrased in such a way as to imply the Internet should be added to the list: sex, drugs and rock-n-roll. I can understand the concern. Among people I know, I’ve heard of some incredibly cruel and hurtful web-based acts among teens. Then, again, I’ve heard of similar acts that didn’t involve the web, so I’m not so sure it’s the web that’s the problem.
I’ve also been a part of many discussions with students and other discussions with parents about the appropriateness of things like “friending ones parents/kids” on Facebook. (Personal observation: Neither teens or parents understand how to use the privacy settings on Facebook.)
Despite having a teen and recent-teen in my in-house focus group, my answers to such questions are typically based on whatever danah boyd says. danah has spent the past several years researching how teens use the Internet, especially social networks. (Heck, I even have her PhD dissertation loaded on my Kindle.)
Yesterday, she invited the 11,000+ people who follow her on Twitter (@zephoria) to ask her questions about current web practices by teens.
She then compiled those questions and her answers into this extremely informative post.
In the immediate future, I’ll be using danah’s post as a crib-sheet to answer questions related to teens. However, if you want to cut out the middle-man, I suggest you bookmark that page for yourself.