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Our interviews suggest that part of the appeal of chatrooms for the young lies in the opportunities that they provide to experiment with extended or alternative identities.
Sherry Turkle tells of her shock and surprise at entering a chatroom anonymously and encountering another Professor Turkle who was there doing research.
This paper reports a small number of interviews with young people in Athens about their use of Internet chatrooms as a means of meeting people.
In the last few years there has been a growing public concern about the dangers of socialising with strangers in chatrooms, but what do the users themselves think about the risks involved, and what strategies have they adopted to manage these risks?
Webcams vary from rather static landscape views (our university has one which is pointed at the sky for weather enthusiasts) to sites apparently managed by young girls who adopt provocative poses and post lists of presents they would like to receive.
The trend seems to be increasingly for such sites to become participative and interactive, Anyone can keep a Weblog—and anyone can read it and respond.
And there is dark side of illicit information, criminal activity, dangerous knowledge and harmful content.
Teachers, parents, librarians and other adults want to encourage children and young people to make maximum use of the positive and creative possibilities of the internet, but they also feel, to varying degrees, responsible for steering them away from the dark side.For many of us the Internet has become an indispensable part of everyday life.It frequently provides our first point of access to information.In the public imagination, there are two sides to the Internet coin.There is a shiny side, celebrated in numerous government policies and programs, which holds out the promise of a new economy based on access to unlimited information, new and exciting curricula and schooling that will engage children and young people in purposeful and useful activity.In some cases they will use blocks and filters but these are never fully effective and they know that they need to find other ways of guiding children to safe use.