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Friendship in a Digital Age (@drbexl for @MMUBS)

A presentation put together at short notice for an ESRC funded discussion - see http://drbexl.co.uk/event/are-you-really-my-friend-exploring-digital-relationships/ for details of the event re friendship in a digital age. Drawing on my book 'Raising Children in a Digital Age'

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Friendship in a Digital Age (@drbexl for @MMUBS)

  1. 1. November 12 2015 1Bex Lewis @drbexl Friendship in a Digital Age Are you really my friend? Exploring digital relationships Dr Bex Lewis Bex.Lewis@mmu.ac.uk
  2. 2. Bex Lewis @drbexl 2 • Lion Hudson, February 2014 • 3,500+ sold • Translated into Chinese/Italian • Strongly featured in the media • http://drbexl.co.uk/ writer/books/book- raising-children-in-a- digital-age/
  3. 3. “If we want resilient kids we need to understand what young people’s experiences are online, listen to their concerns, and intervene with their best interests in mind.” Jane Tallim, Co-Executive Director, MediaSmarts, Canada, January 2015 http://mediasmarts.ca/research-policy/young-canadians-wired-world-phase-iii-trends- recommendations Understand! Bex Lewis @drbexlImage Source: Purple Clover, Facebook
  4. 4. Online/Offline? • Children interviewed felt ... the online world is no more dangerous or exposed than the real world, and some believe that the virtual world is actually more secure and private, because there is more control over what they choose to put onto the Internet. • CHILDWISE ‘Digital Lives’ Report (2010) Bex Lewis @drbexl 4Image Source: Stockfresh
  5. 5. Even though in practice, face-to-face communication can, of course, be angry, negligent, resistant, deceitful and inflexible, somehow it remains the ideal against which mediated communication is judged as flawed. Prof Sonia Livingstone, Children and the Internet: Great Expectations and Challenging Realities. 2009, p26 Bex Lewis @drbexl 5Image Source: LSE Website
  6. 6. Children’s Friendships • Larger numbers than in the past • Across diverse and widespread networks • Concerns: – Whose friend requests should be accepted? – How many friends is ‘too many’? – What are the offline impacts of refusing connection? – Does everyone have to be given the same level of interaction? Image Source: RGBStock Bex Lewis @drbexl 6
  7. 7. Meaningful Friendships? “Social media can be used more as an address book, with privacy settings allowing access to different levels of information, while the public parade of connections offers social identity and status.” (Raising Children, p.106) Image Source: Stockfresh Bex Lewis @drbexl 7
  8. 8. Meeting Strangers? Parents must teach their children to safely negotiate a modern world where many people meet and interact online before meeting in person. A blanket “never meet” rule is just astoundingly silly in an age where the parents of these children themselves may well have met online. ‘Sanya2135’, Comment, Washington Post Image Source: Stockfresh Bex Lewis @drbexl 8
  9. 9. Digital Savviness? “They monitored friends’ pages to ensure that they were being represented fairly, and trusted each other not to expose silly or embarrassing pictures. Those that were on the phone were considered to be private and not for sharing without agreement, although children should still consider what might happen to those photos if the friendship were to fall apart.” (Raising Children, p.108) Image Source: RGBStock Bex Lewis @drbexl 9
  10. 10. Disability Access • I’m a sufferer of Asperger’s syndrome, and video games may have realistically saved my life. I’ve always had problems talking to people face to face, and was never able to make friends at school. If it weren’t for the relationships I formed online through my first games, I honestly can’t be sure that I would be here today [...] they’re obviously a great pastime, which helps me nurture the better side of my syndrome, thinking and responding logically. As with video gaming, the Internet helped me form relationships that I couldn’t in real life. • Children’s Call for Evidence, 2008 Byron Review Image Source: RGBStock Bex Lewis @drbexl 10
  11. 11. Cyber-Bullying? •The Bullied •The Bully •The Bystander •http://www.slideshare.net/drbexl /bullying-for-yc14 Image Source: RGBStock Bex Lewis @drbexl 11
  12. 12. Concluding Thoughts • Understand digital culture • Move away from online/offline • Question ‘meaningfulness’ & digital savviness • Nature of friendships (longer-term) • Authenticity = sustainable? Image Source: Stockfresh Bex Lewis @drbexl 12

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