First, if you have time, check out this link about Dr. Danah Boyd, “senior researcher at Microsoft, an assistant professor at New York University and a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard” according to NYT.
Boyd is really radical in a lot of ways, from her unique clothing style to her types of research, I can understand why a lot of teens would look up to her and desire to emulate her. She’s a scholarly rebel. Pretty BA. While I find her insight interesting, I do disagree with some of her rationale.
She says, “We need to give kids the freedom to explore and experience things online that might actually help them,” which I respect. So much of our interactions take place online, and rightly so, yet I feel as if the problem here is not necessarily that kids need more freedom on the internet. Kids, especially in middle school and high school. need to understand the consequences of the decisions they make on the internet.
Take, for example, a scandal that occurred at my high school a few years after I graduated: a few students thought it would be hilarious to make a Facebook group about an infamous substitute teacher – the page blew up within a few days. Students and alumni alike posted things, some were funny, but some were malicious. School administration found the website, and every single student that posted a comment was called down to the office. The students involved were suspended, I believe, or at least had detention. That’s just one stupid example of things that kids get themselves into – and these types of things don’t just “disappear” on the internet once they’ve been deleted.
Boyd also mentions bullying and how she believes that bullying occurs more frequently in schools than on the Internet – she also cites that neither are on the rise according to her data. I guess one of the major issues I have with this piece is the lack of data, where are the numbers that support these findings? How were they acquired? Where are they from? What is the statistical sampling like?
I have personally witnessed bullying via the internet on a broad scale. The internet gives certain people the opportunity to vocalize their opinions when they may not normally do so in person. This is fantastic, unless they are the type of people who are prone to talking behind people’s backs or instigating what the kids these days probably still call “drama”.
I don’t mean to sound old and out-of-touch or like some sort of Boyd-hater, from this article it just appears to me as if Boyd has this picture-perfect visual of how the internet works for teens – their internet life is full of “sunshine and happiness” – but there are some definite issues and concerns that arise, for people of all walks of life really, when people are not aware of or do not care about the way they live on the internet (I say live because interacting on the internet is essentially a way or extension of life). The way in which Boyd seems to brush off the idea of online-bullying as not on the rise seems to diminish the fact that online bullying exists, the fact that there are problems in this perfect little internet world of hers.
While I respect that Boyd is different and thinks out of the box, I believe she may need to look back in the box and face up to some facts.