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Kids online: Social media sites can help develop identity, study says

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One of the arguments the study’s authors make, thankfully, is that “social networking,” “gaming,” and other terms used to describe children’s experiences in and with these services, are way too narrow, and the research literature tends to silo them – if it even allows that learning and literacy development happen in them, I would add (considering recent studies relegating children’s screen time to “entertainment media”). In LittleBigPlanet, for example, there’s gaming, media production, media-sharing, and socializing, to name just a few types of online activity – it’s far more than a game or social network site.

Child-centric research called for

Research needs to be less prejudiced by the public discourse about teens’ social media use and adult experiences with media (largely of the very different, mass-media era), I have argued, and this report calls for a more child-focused approach because children are very different developmentally from teens and have very different interests: “Children’s own practices and preferences need to be better accounted for in future discussions and research,” they write. “A more child-centric approach to these issues would assist enormously in avoiding the types of assumptions and omissions identified above.” Then maybe, too, as a society, we’ll consider children’s rights as well as safety – seek young people’s, not just adults’ “perspectives on questions of privacy, consent and freedom of speech, authorship and transfer of ownership, as well,” they write.

Some data we do have

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