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Danish youth panel sends open letter to Facebook January 21, 2010

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Facebook, Privacy, Youth.
11 comments

Before Christmas the Danish youth panel “Medierødderne” sent an open letter to Facebook explaining their thoughts on privacy on the site. For instance, they wrote:

For us it’s important to have privacy online to protect ourselves from people we don’t know. […] We want it to be easy and simple for us to change our personal settings when it is needed. In general it is hard to find out how to protect ourselves the best. We want to be the boss of who can see our profile.”

I think that privacy is going to be a big issue among youth – especially, now that they have to “share” social network sites such as Facebook with their parents.

Read more on the youth panel’s blog or read the full letter here.

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Three kinds of online safety May 6, 2009

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Internet Safety, Talks, Youth.
3 comments

During the past few weeks I have been giving a couple of public talks at different conferences in Denmark, all focusing on youth and digital media. Even though my talks usually don’t include many perspectives on online safety and focus more on communicating my research results and giving a general introduction to how Danish youth use social network sites, I know that many of the participants (often teachers, social educators, parents, librarians etc.) are interested in knowing how to teach kids about safety issues.

In this regard I recently read an interesting post from the NetFamilyNews blog. Here, Anne Collier offers three perspectives on online safety and internet literacy:

  • Physical safety – the one we have focused on the most, freedom from physical harm by predators and bullies
  • Psychological safety – freedom from cruelty, flaming, and other forms of harassment and cyberbullying involving ex-friends, mean kids, bullies, colleagues, etc. […]
  • Reputational and legal safety – these can overlap with the psychological kind, where, for example, online defamation can harm someone’s reputation; they provide for freedom from restriction or repercussion as a result of online communication or production by one’s self or others […].

She argues that US kids “have practically tuned out the term online safety” because of a strong focus in US society on the first perspective. The term “can’t really help them deal with the complexities of their online/offline social lives, it’s in danger of becoming irrelevant to them”, she writes. I agree very much with Collier and her point is quite similar to what I was trying to argue in this article on Nettendenser in December. I think it is important to focus not only on the threats and risks (and thereby treating children and young people as victims) in order to get them to listen to advice on online safety.

Read the post from NetFamilyNews here (which also includes many relevant links) .

Girls are more preoccupied with photo comments than boys April 29, 2009

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in PhD Data, Photos, Social network sites, Youth.
58 comments

As regular readers of this blog might know I have a huge body of data in my PhD project. Among the data are 2400 answers to an open-ended questionnaire dealing with the experiences of youth on social network sites. At the moment I am looking at some of the questions that I have not explored so far. (I am using the research software NVivo to code the data along with using SurveyXact for cross tabulation.)

One of the questions deals with how young people feel about the comments they receive on the photos they upload on social network sites . The respondents (12-18 year-old SNS-users) were asked to provide an example of the most recent comment they had gotten on one of their pictures (which is normally a picture of themselves – and the comments most often say that the person looks lovely, hot, beautiful etc. ). As a follow up question the respondents should state who the comment came from (their boy- or girlfriend, their best friend, another friend/acquaintance or someone they didn’t know). After that they were asked what they thought of the comment.

As a preliminary finding the respondents’ answers suggest that there are some gendered differences in how the young people experience the photo comments. It seems that girls are taking much more interest in the comments than boys (or perhaps they are just more articulate when it comes to explaining what the comments mean to them). Typical responses from girls are that they really appreciate when someone comments on their looks in a positive or acknowledging manner. Boys, on the other hand, seem to be slightly more indifferent about the comments they get on their looks.

Based on my other empirical data, I would say that both genders seek the acknowledgement they get from having their looks commented on, but the questionnaire data suggest that  girls are more preoccupied with what kind of comments they get and who they come from. In general, it is very important that the comments come from friends and people they know, rather then strangers. This indicates (and confirms my hypothesis) that photo comments are not just about having ones outer looks valued and acknowledged (identity construction), but also about practising and maintaining friendships.

To illustrate my point, here is one of the typical answers from the questionnaire (translated from Danish):

”Ohh baby<333 you are so beautiful :’D<33 I love you with all of my heart and you are someone really special<333”

[Comment on a picture of a 15 year old girl, who uses Arto and NationX, from a friend].
The 15 year old girl writes:

”I was really pleased and a little bit flattered, because it was a picture of myself 😉 … It is nice when people write these kind of things to you – it means almost as much as if they would say it to you directly.”

Guest-blogging at Nettendenser December 19, 2008

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Blogs, Social network sites, Youth.
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3 comments

For a while I have been wanting to keep a blog in Danish. However, I must admit that I do not have the time to maintain two blogs. Therefore, I was happy when Lars Damgaard Nielsen asked me to be a guest-blogger at his interesting blog called Nettensender. It is a Danish blog about the social aspects of the internet.

Today my first guest article was posted. It deals with how young people feel about grown-ups’ attitudes towards their use of social network sites. Here is a small extract from the post (in Danish):

Der er nok af holdninger til emnet ’unge og sociale netværk’, og perspektiverne er mangfoldige. De unge selv er ganske trætte af de panik-/skræmmehistorier om især pædofili/børnelokkeri, som de seneste fem år har været fremme i de danske nyhedsmedier, og som ofte over en kam fremstiller de unge brugere som ansvars- og hjælpeløse ofre.

You can read the post directly at Nettendenser here.

How to communicate to youngsters about Internet safety March 22, 2008

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Children, Internet Safety, Youth.
8 comments

hjarnees.jpgThe Danish Media Council for Children and Young People has launched a new campaign about Internet safety aimed at children and young people. The campaign features a fictional character, the 32-year old Hjarness, who has profiles on many different social network sites and uploads pictures, videos and all kinds of personal information about himself (and his friends) on the Internet.

Hjarness has a YouTube profile, an Arto profile, a WordPress blog and his very own homepage. He has also written an article about Internet safety for the online magazine Artomania.

I think this is a really interesting way of communicating to youngsters about Internet safety. Among other things, Hjarnees advises children and young people to put their full name, address, phone number and e-mail address online and to upload embarrassing photos and videos of their friends. There is no finger-wagging here, and the young people seem to really get the point and find Hjarnees really funny.

The campaign is targeted 13-16-year olds and the message is “Life online is what YOU make of IT”. Read more about it here.

How much time do Danish youngsters spend on social network sites? February 14, 2008

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in PhD Data, Social networking sites, Survey, Youth.
4 comments

As promised, I would blog in English about the new survey on Danish young people’s experiences on social network sites. I can start off with something simple; the amount of time that they spend on social network sites.

According to the questionnaire, 30,9 % of the Danish users between the age of 12 and 18 spend more than two hours a day on SNS:

time.jpg
[Respondents’ answers to the question: ”How often do you use communities or social network sites?”]

Please note that these are not average numbers for all Danish teenagers, but reflect the amount of time that users of social network site between the age of 12 and 18 spend on the sites that they themselves consider to be social network sites. In the questionnaire we did not predefine SNS as we wanted the respondents’ take on it. Many of them consider MSN Messenger to be a social network site/community/chat portal as well.

In the category “Other” many of the wrote “All the time” or informed that they spend up to four, five or even ten hours a day on social network sites.

About the survey
The survey was conducted in 2007 together with The Danish Media Council for Children and Young People. It consisted of an online questionnaire with both factual questions about media habits and use as well as questions to which respondents could answer qualitatively. 2400 youngsters between the age of 12 and 18 years old answered the questionnaire with personal views on as well as examples from their online experiences.

New survey: Young people’s experiences on social network sites February 12, 2008

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in PhD Data, Safer Internet Day, Social network sites, Survey, Youth.
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Today is Safer Internet Day 2008. In that connection the Danish Media Council and I launch some of the results from our online survey about Danish children and young people’s use of social network sites. See more about the survey here.

Download press release.

Download fact sheet with central findings.

Unfortunately, the documents are in Danish, but I promise to blog about the central findings in English when I have more time. Now I have to get ready for the Safer Internet Day event in the Experimentarium in Copenhagen.

Go’ morgen Danmark February 11, 2008

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Media coverage, News media, PhD Data, Social Networking, Survey, Youth.
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Tomorrow morning at 7.15 I will be in “Go’ morgen Danmark” on TV2 (Danish television). I will be talking about the new survey I did with the Danish Media Council for Children and Young People. See more about the show here.

New survey on young people, sex and the internet February 7, 2008

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Internet, Sex, Youth.
3 comments

A new Danish survey dealing with young people’s use of the internet to purchase or sell sex shows that every tenth of the participants in the survey has received payment.

2367 Danish young people between the age of 14 and 24 have participated in the survey.

  • 79,8 % of them have never given or received any payment for sex – and don’t know anyone who has.
  • 9,8 % of them know someone who has either given or received payment for sex.
  • 9,1 % of them have received some kind of payment for sex.
  • 1,3% of them have given some kind of payment for sex.

The study is conducted by Cyberhus, a Danish online community for children and young people run by social workers, for Aarhus City Council. Read more about the study here and read the whole report here (only in Danish).

It is important to know that one cannot simply conclude that one out of every tenth youngster in Denmark has received payment for sex. As project coordinator, Jonas Ravn, says in a newsletter from Cyberhus:

Man kan ikke ud fra undersøgelsen konkludere, at hver 10. unge i Danmark har solgt sex. Men 9,1 procent af de unge, der har valgt at deltage i vores undersøgelse, har fået betaling for at levere seksuelle ydelser. Men egentlig er det ikke undersøgelsens primære mål at undersøge omfanget, men at se på, om og hvordan de unge bruger nettet til at lave aftaler om sex.

Also, the definition of payment includes not only money, also but material things such as alcohol, cigarettes and clothes.

Furthermore, the study shows that the sale and payment of sex often take place between friends and acquaintances. And most often as a sudden impulse.

New article December 20, 2007

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Articles, Social Networking, Youth.
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I have a new, small article out in the December newsletter from Insafe on social networking. The article is in English (for once) and is called “It’s all about real life: On youth and online social networking”. Here I present some of the results from the survey I have been doing in collaboration with The Danish Media Council for Children and Young People.

Read the article here.