Sprint starts a conversation about social media at the Boys and Girls Club Conference

Social Media Supersession at BGCA's National Conference.

At BGCA's National Conference in San Diego, a Sprint-sponsored Supersession yielded some important information on teens. Presenters discussed teens' concept of privacy, how they view technology and the role technology plays in their lives. In addition, Club professionals learned what organizations like Boys & Girls Clubs can do to help teens use technology – particularly social media – in better and safer ways.

Presented by Alice Marwick, post doctoral researcher at Microsoft Research, and Susannah Stern, associate professor of Communications Studies at the University of San Diego, the Supersession focused on recent teen technology trends. Today's teens have a very unique sense of privacy online. For example, rather than ask permission to post something (such as a picture of a friend), today's teens post things and remove them only if someone asks them not to share them.

Marwick and Stern offered similar insight into bullying, arguing that many teens don't think in terms of bullying but rather in terms of "drama."

A difficult concept to define, drama is an important component of their online lives and drives some of their behaviors. Drama is related to publicity, which teens crave as part of their online interactions. In additions, Marwick's studies point out that teens care much more about privacy than most adults think teens do and they take steps that are similar to steps adults take to guard their privacy. However, teens define privacy differently than adults do, with some things that adults define as privacy (such as posting a picture of friends online without first getting permission) is not viewed as a violation of privacy. Teens will post a picture and then remove it if requested by someone in the picture.

Stern pointed out that teens deprived of Internet use in a controlled study said they felt very disconnected and bored. However, they also appreciated the time it gave them to be with friends and to be alone with themselves. In another controlled study, many first-year college students admitted that they felt regret about something they had posted online, but only because it misrepresented who they were. Only 1 in 50 said they regretted the post because of punishment.

Both Marwick and Stern took questions from Supersession participants, emphasizing practical applications for their work in regard to Club staff members who interact with teens daily.

The Supersession was presented twice with 96 attendees in the first session and 57 attendees in the second, reaching a total of 153 conference participants.

Some web citations:

Marwick, A. & boyd, d. (2011)
"The drama! Teen conflict, gossip, & bullying in networked publics." Oxford Internet Institute Decade in Internet Time Symposium, Oxford, UK.
boyd, d. & Marwick, A. Social Privacy in Networked Publics: Teens' Attitudes, Practices, and Strategies.
Privacy Law Scholars Conference, Berkeley Center for Law & Technology at the Claremont Resort and Hotel, Berkeley, CA. June 2-3, 2011.
Boyd, d. & Marwick, A. (2011). "Bullying as True Drama: Why Cyberbullying Rhetoric Misses the Mark."
The New York Times, September 22.

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