Playing in a Virtual Bedroom: youth leisure in the Facebook generation

Downs, Carolyn (2011) Playing in a Virtual Bedroom: youth leisure in the Facebook generation. In: Children, youth and lesiure. LSA Publication . Leisure Studies Association, pp. 15-31. ISBN 9781905369249

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Young people like to socialise with their friends and this is an important part of growing up (Putnam, 1995; Smith, 1999). In the last decade the ways in which young people socialise have been assisted by new technologies. Mobile phones and SMS use are almost universal amongst young people (Davie et al, 2004; Ofcom, 2008) while access to the Internet either via the web-and-walk technology of 3G mobile phones or in the home and school allows young people to maintain high levels of contact with friends using instant messaging (IM) and Social Networking Sites (SNS) such as Facebook, Bebo, and MySpace; virtual leisure spaces where activities and socailising take place in an environment largely free from adult oversight. This paper will take the idea of physical personal space in which identity can be explored, leisure activities undertaken and a friendship network maintained and apply it to the new virtual worlds inhabited and personalized as ‘virtual bedrooms’ (Lincoln and Hodkinson, 2008). These worlds offer unlimited opportunities to access content (games, role play, video etc) that is unmediated by adults in an environment where risk-consciousness may be reduced. The realist position on the risk-taking behaviour of young people; that risk-taking can be seen as part of a rational calculation by young people, may not be appropriate for the range of virtual risks now accessible to young people as part of their leisure. This paper seeks to incorporate theories of liminality and edgework as part of the leisure experience alongside dimensions of risk comprehension more generally used to underpin research and theorizing on risky health behaviours. As France (2007) noted; ‘youth research has taken less interest in risk-taking as a cultural phenomenon’ (France, 2007, 146). Exploring this privatized virtual world where young people ‘type themselves into being’ (Sunden, 2003) and create managed and sometimes multiple personas as they self-socialize (Arnett, 1995) in unexpected ways offers new information on the continuing evolution of youth leisure, content-generated risk and youth sub-cultures in the twenty-first century.

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03 Jan 2013 09:17
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12 Sep 2023 01:40