Ponderance

(May 2003 - March 2007.) Tama's thoughts on the blogosphere, podcasting, popular culture, digital media and citizen journalism posted from a laptop computer somewhere in Perth's isolated, miniature, urban jungle ...

Henry Jenkins and danah boyd with some words of great wisdom for parents of the iGeneration (or: why MySpace is only bad if you let it be!)

Sunday, May 28, 2006
Henry Jenkins and danah boyd (who, I've finally noticed, does not capitalise her name on purpose) have released online a full transcipt of their interview regarding youth social software website and the problems with proposed US laws to deal with the potential of sexual predators online. Their Discussion: MySpace and Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) concludes with the following very sensible recommendations to parents of the iGeneration:
1. Communication with your daughter or son is key. Build a trusting relationship through dialogue. It is important to talk with them about your concerns; it is even more important to listen to what they have to say about their online experiences and why these sites are such an important part of their interactions with their peers. You need to recognize that some unfamiliar experiences look scarier from the outside than they are. Take time to understand what you are seeing and what it means to participants.

2. Create an account to understand how the site works, but not to stalk your kids. They need room to explore, but if you are familiar with the media and technology that they consume, you can provide valuable guidance and suggestions. Surveillance, while possible, damages a trusting parent/child relationship.

3. Ask your kids how they choose to represent themselves and why. Use MySpace as a resource to start a conversation about contemporary fashion, ideals, and media images.

4. Talk about private/ public issues with your kids. Help them to understand the consequences of making certain information publicly accessible. Get them to think through all of the possible audiences who might come into contact with their online information. Teens often imagine MySpace as a youth-only world. It isn't and they need to consider what the consequences would be if their grandparents, their teachers, admissions officers or a future employer read what they said about themselves. Helping your children learn how to negotiate such public environments is a great educational opportunity.

5. Talk through what kids should do if they receive unwanted attention online or if they find themselves the victims of cyberbullying. A growing number of sites provide useful information about how to confront such problems, including Net Family News , NetSmartz and SafeTeens. The "Safety Tips" section of MySpace also provides information for both parents and teens, including MySpace policies.


As always, I'm a huge believer in education as the key to overcoming and preventing many of the traumas in contemporary culture be it online or offline. I'd recommend all parents of under-18s read the interview and have a think about their offpsring and their online interactions.

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