#NET102 – Everyday life and intimacy for teens

TUTOR:
Let’s talk about the Pascoe reading. This reading takes us beyond online dating agencies and cybersex, into the realm of everyday life and intimacy. How do youths growing up with the Internet form and conduct relationships these days? Do you think much has changed in the last five years?

MY RESPONSE:
This was a fascinating read – I have read parts of Danah Boyd’s book on the social lives of networked teens, but some of the points that Pascoe raises provided me with more pause for thought.

As an older person, I wouldn’t be able to confidently speculate on how much things have changed for teens since this article was published in 2009, except for, perhaps the technology they use now (e.g. My Space has declined in popularity since 2009). However, I found that, as I was reading, one idea constantly came up for me… private VS public. Teens more readily expose a lot of themselves online that many from my generation would have shied away from.

Also, as teens attain more “privacy” from their families and parents by interacting openly with one another online, they could inadvertently open themselves up for problems in the future. The question of how their digital footprints will affect them later on in life, when they’re older and more mature in mind and body, would be an interesting avenue for investigation. As for their current situations, it seems to me that their online “privacy” sometimes comes at the cost of merely trading that right from their parents’ control over to their boyfriend/girlfriend’s control. Pascoe details how “Their privacy is compromised because they do not retain control over their mobile phones” (p. 141), for example. Another type of subservience, control, monitoring and surveillance takes over within the relationship.

The idea that they don’t think twice about proclaiming to the world that they’re “in a relationship” with someone, immediately illustrates (to me) that they’re still young and have not carefully considered the possible ramifications of such actions… something which all teens go through in a variety of ways, I’m sure.

Much was covered in this reading, but of particular interest to me were the intimacy and power issues around the sharing of passwords. Apparently, if a teen is in a relationship, it is assumed that the couple will share their account passwords with one another. The refusal to share them, as an “… attempt to set a boundary around their intimate relations…” (Pascoe, 2009, p. 140), affected girls more than boys. This made me wonder if this was a sign of prevalent insecurity and low self-esteem amongst female teens. As Pascoe goes on to detail the “power” (p. 140) that girls feel from having their boyfriends’ passwords, one can also wonder if this power provided girls with a false sense of security as they perhaps, subconsciously tried to address issues surrounding gender inequity within their relationships.

Furthermore, I question if these power games that are played out are creating a teen social environment that revolves around distrust. Will this distrust persist throughout the teen’s lifespan? Does this kind of behaviour teach teens to naturally distrust others in their relationships? What part of these interactions online teach them the importance of authenticity? After reading further about boys deleting comments on their social profiles made by other females while they are in a relationship, it raised the question in my mind of who is truly providing, revealing and sharing their authentic selves to others. Does this kind of monitoring and behaviour evolve into a form of stalking as well, perhaps?

I’m sure that an absorbing and engaging essay could evolve from a topic such as this one.

References

boyd, danah. (2014). It’s complicated: the social lives of networked teens. New Haven, USA: Yale University Press.

Pascoe, C. J. (2009). Intimacy. In Mizuko, I., Baumer, S., Bittanti, M., boyd, d., Cody, R., Herr-Stephenson, B., … Tripp, L. (Eds.). Hanging Out, Messing Around, Geeking Out: Living and Learning with New Media (pp. 117-148). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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About Maha @ Uni

Studying online, and want to keep a record of my progress and experiences...
This entry was posted in #NET102, Authenticity, Digital Footprint, Everyday Life, Internet, Intimacy, Networked Teens, Online Dating, Online Identity, Power, Private & Public, Social Networks and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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