Monday, April 14, 2008

Youth Public vs. Adult Public

This is a huge issue today and one that I am familiar with because when my little brother, who is 14, created his Myspace page last year my parents came to me with questions. They knew I had an account but never worried much about it because I didn't create mine until I was a senior in high school and to be honest they didn't know much about it. Neither of them are computer savvy enough to know the risks that it can entail but began to worry and have questions when the dangers of Myspace became public chit chat in our town, on the news and in papers. I agree that there are dangers on these websites when users post phone numbers, addresses, very personal information, as well as when they begin to accept "friends" on the site they do not know at all. But, for the most part in what I have seen through surfing my brothers page and his friends pages is that they are merely using them as a teen outlet. It is a way to "be cool", represent yourself, vent about frustrations and hardships experienced during those frustrating years of junior high and high school. And as I told my parents, from what I have seen with my brother and most of his friends pages they are not accepting strangers as friends, their profiles are private, and even better, many of them don't even use their real names, ages, or locations. I believe my brothers says that he is 50 years old and lives in "where ever you want it to be, CA". I find most of the content on his page extremely funny and harmless, and I do check up on his page often because I promised I would keep a watch out for my parents. But truthfully I think the source of this struggle between the youth public vs. the adult public regarding these network sites is the mere fact that these sites are in the unknown to most adults, which leaves them worried and stressed. I think they need to be understanding to the fact that this is a new age and these sites and much of the internet culture today is different and exploratory, and is not an area of their expertise.

1 comment:

moniquesandoval said...

In response to Kayla's blog, I agree with her statement that most adults of today are in the "unknown" concerning cyberspace forums such as myspace and facebook. Parents of today grew up in a world where computer and internet were non-existent. Today, children and teens are culturally bred with the internet and are especially attracted to the sites mentioned above. I myself am guilty of being a member to both sites. Therefore, I readily identify myself as a participant in the affiliation participatory culture Jenkins mentions in his article. I am rarely on the computer and when I find myself using its luxuries other than for school work, I am checking my facebook and myspace. But what once was an obsessive habit, has now transformed to a simple ten minute browse on each, if that. Sites like these were much more attractive when I was younger and still unsure of myself, as an independent individual.

I was first introduced to myspace in the ninth grade, that awkward year when you are forced to leave behind the juvenile comforts of childhood and enter a disheartening array of experiences much beyond your years. At school, I was shy and often labeled as the "nerd," signing on for every extra-curricular activity I could, from newspaper, to student government, to sports. However, when I signed up for myspace, I found myself free to "write myself into being," (a statement borrowed from Boyd's article) internet being that is. I was able to befriend kids from my school that I would never have the courage to say hi to casually in the halls or talk to that one boy who sat behind me in math, never acknowledging my presence. It seemed, as though, I could live as two entirely different people: the shy nerd at school and the gregarious princess on the web.

From then on, I would spend countless hours on myspace enhancing my profile and leaving "comments," all steps Boyd mentions in her article. This continued regularly, until the day my mom asked what I was doing. Although I had nothing to be guilty or ashamed of (I had an appropriate picture of me fully dressed and modestly posed, no extremely personal information was posted and my friends were students who I knew attended my school) I felt slightly uncomfortable explaining this concept to my mother. I finally told her the entire idea surrounding myspace and she forced me to take it down until she thought I was responsible enough to handle the varying dangers that myspace and cyberspace itself, poses.

Although I could have kept my myspace account active, fully aware that my mother did not even know how to turn on our computer, let alone browse myspace and find my profile, I obediently took it down. Furthermore, even though my profile was not an attack against "adult publics," but rather a disguise for my shy self, I feel as though many children and teens feel that cyberspace is a way to rebel against their parents. In this world where parents seem to be more in the "unknown" than the "known" kids find liberation and freedom in these internet worlds. Most of the time, kids are looking to explore a world they are unable to explore on their own in the real world. Websites such as myspace and facebook, allow kids to do that and it seems as though they are targeting younger and younger age groups. Facebook was once only open to college students and an individual could not access an account unless they had a legitimate college email. Now, facebook has opened their site to all ages, not just college students. Therefore, kids joining these sites are of younger age than before, just recently a family friend's son asked me to be his myspace friend, he is eight years old.

Perhaps an eerie and scary notion, or maybe just part of our ever revolutionizing culture, kids will continue to venture and create identities on these sites in order to liberate themselves from the shackles of their parents. It may seem difficult for many parents to understand since they are so out of the loop on myspace and facebook, hence their ever growing concern. , however, they must understand that this is indeed a part of our world now and maybe the most effective way to protect your children, is to explain the dangers of cyberspace, just as you would explain the dangers of pre-marital sex and doing drugs.