Many of the girls we have interviewed have told us how their interests in the Internet grew from the Web sites which promote pop music and fashion — at the time of the study this particularly involved sites that promoted boy bands, many of which contain links that lead them into chatrooms and related sites.
These chatroom sites provide opportunities to try on alternative ways of looking and being in interaction with others, who share similar interests and who appear to take you at ‘face value’; a face you can manipulate for effect without fear of detection.
One that has become popular in the last few years is ‘blogging’, the keeping of diaries, journals and log books on line (hence ‘webblogs’) and sometimes linked to Web cams, which link video surveillance to a personal Web site.
‘Blogging’ has some of the appeal of soap opera, as vernacular ‘stars’ arise, who keep journals which detail their personal lives, or more insidiously in some of the blogs found on sites that celebrate anorexia.
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.
Here, using a small set of these interviews, which were made with students in a tutorial centre in Athens , we will describe how some young people use the Internet to make relationships with others, and particularly how young women and men use the net to meet and talk to one another.
As a place to meet and talk with strangers, one of the appeals of cyberspace lies in its visual silence.
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.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?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.Censorship does not work in cyberspace (or works in only partial and transitory ways) and what is generally agreed is needed is education in ‘responsible use.’ This includes developing educational strategies that take account of the appeal and attraction of the Internet and supports young people in reflecting on their own practice as Internet users and the consequences of their Internet interactions on others. Generally speaking we found that the fears that young people had about the safety of the Internet differed from those of adults.