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Many of the young people we spoke to said that they found this continual uncertainty exhilarating and very different from most of their daytoday interactions with others (in ‘meat space’), in which role, status and rules constrain interaction within routine and highly predictable forms.
Chatrooms provide more than a stage for trying on new selves; the setting itself can become hyperreal, as all those who participate in it interact in the knowledge that ‘noone is quite who they say they are’.
Like many of their generation, communicating through the new media is an integral part of their way of life.
By listening to their stories we can make the discussion more concrete and specific.
For many of us the Internet has become an indispensable part of everyday life.
As a place to meet and talk with strangers, one of the appeals of cyberspace lies in its visual silence.Chatrooms, in particular, combine the closeness and directness of the personal letter with the interactivity of the phone conversation, so sidestepping the contemporary obsession with personal appearance and liberating us from the constraints that this imposes.Such conversations in the dark allow us to be reaffirmed in the images we have of ourselves rather than being constrained by our consciousness of all the shortcomings that others might see in us.In some cases they will use blocks and filters but these are never fully effective and they know that they need to find other ways of guiding children to safe use.Censorship does not work in cyberspace (or works in only partial and transitory ways) and what is generally agreed is needed is education in ‘responsible use.’ This includes developing educational strategies that take account of the appeal and attraction of the Internet and supports young people in reflecting on their own practice as Internet users and the consequences of their Internet interactions on others. Generally speaking we found that the fears that young people had about the safety of the Internet differed from those of adults.