Are the moral panics over? January 21, 2009Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Moral panic, Parents, Social Networking, Youngsters.
In Denmark, Facebook has become so mainstream that you can expect all kinds of people at all ages to have a profile on the site. Apparently, Denmark is the second largest Facebook country measured in profiles per citizens (even though the large number of profiles probably does not equal the actual amount of users).
Today I received a message on Facebook from an 80 year old man who told me that he uses Facebook to keep in touch with his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. And he is not alone. Many grown up’s are now communicating with their children on Facebook (which I have recently been giving some interviews on). Also those children and young people who normally use Arto, Skum, NationX or other Danish social network sites that are targeted particularity at young people. At the moment I am receiving many friendship requests on FB from my 12-16 year old informants. At least it is safe to say that several generations are now represented on the same site.
And this has made me think: Are the moral panics over? Have social network sites become so naturalised in society that the previous moral panics concerning e.g. Arto in Denmark or MySpace in the US have faded out? It has been a while since journalists have focused on the fears and dangers of young peoples’ use of social network sites, and when I am being interviewed they certainly ask different questions than they did a couple of years ago. Also, parents ask me radically different questions when I am giving talks at schools. And politicians are eagerly embracing social network sites and social media in general.
Perhaps we are over the worst moral panics when it comes to youth and online social networking? At least I find it interesting if I through my research into this area during the past four of five years have witness this transition.