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Friday, April 29, 2005

IM anthropology: Virtual community of 11-15s

"I had the chance to observe an IM chat once," Dr. Robert Price told me in a recent phone interview. "It wasn't about anything; it wasn't a conversation. It was more like graffiti than a conversation." This observation of Haworth School's tech coordinator would probably sound about right to any adult observing middle-school students' instant-messaging conversations. When I watch a session of my 13-year-old's, it seems like a sort of digital snowball fight - a playful group experience with lots of what might be suggestive of communication - not apparently meaningful, yet *so* meaningful to the participants. IM-ing is a compelling, emotionally safe (somewhat) extension of middle-schoolers' budding social lives. Sometimes too compelling, some parents feel. But our kids' instant-messaging also offers insights into what they're dealing with at school and in their social lives, insights that might help us in our parenting. For more on this, please see this week's issue of my newsletter - and feel free to send comments or post below. I'd love to hear from fellow parents of IM-ers!


Blogger Ken Leebow said...

I encourage parents to IM with their teens. Here's what you'll learn: It's a fun, informal, frequently goofy way to communicate. It is very different from face-to-face, e-mail,or phone communication. And, there isn't anything wrong with that.
Ken Leebow

9:09 AM  

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