Young People's Net Cultures

Young People's Net Cultures

Elza Dunkels (Umeå University, Sweden)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 7
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch350
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Sweden has a large number of Internet users, and on a global scale only Iceland had more Internet users in 2005 (ITU, 2007). The European Union funded project Safety Awareness Facts & Tools found that 87 % of the Swedish children have access to the Internet at home (Medierådet, 2003a). Today Scandinavian media focus on alleged serious problems caused by children being on line. Despite these media reports, however, it appears that Scandinavian parents and children talk little about the Internet and its effects on life (Bjørnstad, 2002; Medierådet, 2003b). In Sweden consensus is strong regarding adult responsibility towards children. Parents often organize forums for different aspects of the child’s life. Many parents and teachers consider it bad form not to participate in these activities ranging from meetings to taking the children by car to all their activities. This shared notion of what adult responsibility means, forms a background to the debate concerning children and the Internet. At an early stage some Swedish schools discussed whether pupils should be allowed to use the Internet during school hours (Rask, 2006), despite the Swedish government having placed large resources into giving all schools access to the Internet and every pupil an e-mail address (Chaib & Tebelius, 2004).
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Net Cultures

Net cultures are activities on the Internet and the cultures that evolve around them (Dunkels, 2007). Net cultures can be viewed as emerging in a context that the Internet creates. When children enter this context they learn how to interact with others and how to make use of the possibilities as well as to avoid negative phenomena. This ongoing learning process can be viewed from a socio-cultural perspective, in which knowledge and skills are seen as products of our environment (Säljö, 2000). Säljö also claims that learning and what is considered useful knowledge change with history and culture.

The learning taking place through a computer connected to the Internet can also be seen as situated learning (Smith, 2003) where beginners are in the periphery, learning from experts and gradually move into the centre of the community, becoming experts themselves.


Main Focus: Children’S Strategies Dealing With Threats, Abuse And Bullying On The Internet

The following is an account of a pilot study, conducted in November 2003 through February 2004: Children’s Strategies Dealing with Threats, Abuse and Bullying on the Internet.

The focus of the study is on the children’s own counter strategies against what they themselves define as threatening or negative on the Internet. Questions of interest are: What do children find threatening on the Internet? How do children cope with these threats? How have they developed these strategies? Do boys and girls differ in this respect?


To receive in-depth answers qualitative interview was chosen as the method. The interviews took place in a chat forum for three reasons. The first is that children interesting to this study are on line and likely to be used to computer mediated communication, the second is that chatting facilitates data collection and makes transcription unnecessary (Bordia, 1996). The third reason is economic and practical.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Chat: A computer-mediated real-time written conversation. It has the characteristics of a casual conversation, and is usually not stored. A chat can be Web based or software based. The first means that it can be accessed from any computer with a Web connection, the later that certain software needs to be installed on the computer. There are open chat forums that anyone can visit to chat, to find new acquaintances or information. Just as often, people prefer to chat with friends, using chat tools that require authentication before allowed chatting. Examples of software chat tools are Irc and Mirc

Net Cultures: Activities on the Internet and the cultures that evolve around these activities. Examples are, - Chatting -Searching on the Internet - Playing games - Downloading and distributing music, films, software and other digital material - The unwritten rules concerning e-mail and other written conversations - Patterns of interaction in the new media environment

Digital Native: Somebody who did not experience life before the Internet. Prensky (2001) uses the term to describe the first generation that grew up with the Internet as a part of their childhood, which is the sense of the word used in this article. People not accustomed to computers and the Internet from childhood are consequently digital immigrants

Safe Use Guide: A set of rules to help Internet users avoid dangers and unpleasant situations. Examples can be found on many major web sites, particularly aimed at children and teenagers. Among these you often find tips like the ones (2006) list, - I will not give out personal information such as my address, telephone number, parents’ work address/telephone number, or the name and location of my school without my parents’ permission. - I will tell my parents right away if I come across any information that makes me feel uncomfortable. - I will never agree to get together with someone I “meet” online without first checking with my parents. If my parents agree to the meeting, I will be sure that it is in a public place and bring my mother or father along

Emoticon: The word emoticon is probably derived from the words emotion and icon, suggesting that emoticons are icons, or images, expressing emotions. In written conversations, such as chats, IM or post-it notes the lack of visual and aural support often needs to be compensated. Hård af Segerstad (2002, p. 131) expresses this, Cyber communicators use emoticons to convey non-verbal signals

Instant Messages (IMs): Written messages, synchronous or asynchronous, sent via an IM tool. The IM tool allows the user to see which pre-defined contacts are online and send synchronous messages, the conversation taking the character of a chat, or asynchronous, leaving the message until the contact goes online. Examples of IM tools are Icq and MSN

Net Community: A virtual meeting place accessible through the Internet. To get a picture of what a net community is one can imagine a mixture of the school year book, a show room, a trendy café, a telephone, mail, and walking down High Street on a Saturday afternoon. It is a virtual place for communication, providing tools for presenting yourself and observing others. Most net communities are web based, that is, you can access them via a web site. As a member you log in and get admittance to your personal space where you can publish information about yourself, true or untrue, as much as you choose. All members can view each other’s information and communicate

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