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What We Don’t Want to Know About Teenagers Online.


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Our presentation to the BSA's Annual Conference 2017

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What We Don’t Want to Know About Teenagers Online.

  1. 1. Oxford Internet Institute What We Don’t Want to Know About Teenagers Online. Huw Davies, Rebecca Eynon, & Laura Pinkerton The Oxford Internet Institute University of Oxford @oiioxford
  2. 2. Oxford Internet Institute Background Teenagers’ time is increasingly colonised by extensions to the school day. (This is classed, relative to ‘ability’, school’s priorities etc.)
  3. 3. Oxford Internet Institute Background Teenagers’ offline public presence continues to be problematized. They are being pushed back to their homes, where many will remain domicile well into adult life. Consequently, the digital world is offering vital opportunities for young people develop their identity as they transition to adulthood.
  4. 4. Oxford Internet Institute Online presence normatively regulated • Impulsive • Naïve • Superficial • Unreflective • Narcissistic • Addicted • Distracted • Abusive
  5. 5. Oxford Internet Institute ‘Homo œconomicus' - saviours of our economy "We will equip the next generation so we have a strong pipeline of specialist skills – from coding to cyber – to support the tech industry and drive productivity across the economy” Karen Bradley, 1/3/17
  6. 6. Oxford Internet Institute 'homo œconomicus’
  7. 7. Oxford Internet Institute Structural constraints What we want them to do What they’re doing What we don’t want them to Normatively approved Problematic – anxiety inducingExercising agency
  8. 8. Oxford Internet Institute Green Valley School
  9. 9. Oxford Internet Institute Bluebird Academy
  10. 10. Oxford Internet Institute Layers of digital engagement Apps (Closed propriety platforms - greatest opportunities for corporations to capture & monetise user data) Open Web (Where educators want creativity to happen?) Dark Web
  11. 11. Oxford Internet Institute Appification of the Web
  12. 12. Oxford Internet Institute Socialisers / Leisurists PC Gamers Non- conformists Pragmatists Academic conservatives Propriety corporate compounds Open Web Dark Web Questionnaires n = 113 Interviews n = 46
  13. 13. Oxford Internet Institute Socialisers / Leisurists • A range of devices (dominated by the smartphone) • Interactions via apps there often confined to corporate compounds • Parents and children use settings and heuristics to manage risks • Often light touch supervision e.g. Facebook friends/password • A range of familiar (and less familiar) apps and social networks • Most agency is a result of tension between autonomy and constraints (especially user and parental anxiety)
  14. 14. Oxford Internet Institute Pragmatists • Usage confined to a games console (not always latest generation or networked) • And a cheaper or 2nd hand smartphone (often pay-as-you-go) • Which they normally use only for apps to message friends arrange meet-ups (e.g. games of football) or listen to music • Can be very anxious about risks, immediate family or friends similar usage • Low experimentation but often don’t think they’re ‘missing out’
  15. 15. Oxford Internet Institute Dan • Isn’t on any any social network (except PlayStation network) • Still uses SMS • Likes to play snooker • Watches old snooker games on YouTube • Wants apprenticeship in electrical engineering
  16. 16. Oxford Internet Institute Academic conservatives • Will use apps to talk to friends and family • Will discuss homework online • Self-disciplined • Not immersed in digital culture because it’s a distraction from school work • Also low experimentation
  17. 17. Oxford Internet Institute Non-conformists • Don’t feel they fit in school • Find affiliates online • Online = an alternative opportunity to explore their identity • Confident users, high level of experimentation e.g. dating simulators • Learn from other autonomous users (including PC gamers)
  18. 18. Oxford Internet Institute Gemma • “I think probably my parents finding out was the main thing because they’re completely against social media and well they still have basically no idea that I’ve got a fan Instagram account but the good thing is though is that because I haven’t included my name or my age on there they’ll never know that it’s me.” • I wouldn’t talk to my parents about it. I would probably talk to my best friend about it, she really likes social media.
  19. 19. Oxford Internet Institute Gemma on her friends • “She’s going to Reading Festival in a couple of weeks and I don’t know where Reading Festival is but she’s going by herself and she’s younger than me and if she managed to meet up with somebody that she’d never actually seen in person then I don’t think I could ever do that.” • “My Polish friend (pc gamer) I think you’re meeting him later on today actually and he is just amazing with technology, like he can do all these things on like JavaScript and stuff.”
  20. 20. Oxford Internet Institute Gemma I sent them The Empress some of my artwork and they said yeah that’s fine you can, you know, come and do work experience. So I did that for about six months and then they offered me a placement and I told them look I’m 15 are you sure this is a good idea? And they said well yes, you know, we really like your drawings could you come up with some concept character designs. So I’ve been doing that for I think about four months now so and they just send me cheques through the post. But it’s kind of weird because my parents don’t like anime at all and so they kind of don’t know that I’ve got this job thing. So I’ve kind of got to sneakily take the cheques out when I’m going out with my friends to town and just cash them in in the bank but they don’t really know (laughs) so that sometimes gets a bit awkward.” I will probably never even go to like university.
  21. 21. Oxford Internet Institute PC Gamers • Built their own PCs • Confident, self-taught & experimental • Learned from communities on the Web such a Reddit (rather staying confined to social networks) • Said they knew more than their parents • Uninterested in coding as it’s presented to them in school (so far) • Attracted to the exotic and acquiring skills that make them look savvy
  22. 22. Oxford Internet Institute Ross Ross: Well, it’s like- we get bored sometimes so like we just go on the dark web and just browse some of the stuff you can buy and stuff like that really. How do you do that then? Ross: Download a thing called Tor. It just allows you to go on the dark web and then pretty much like, it’s like an unidentified tool. Well, they say you’re unidentified but like I don’t really know that. But I know journalists use it. So do you and your friends get together and go on it together? Ross: Yeah, well like or you just get one person to go on there and just share screens on Skype so then everyone gets to watch. But yeah.
  23. 23. Oxford Internet Institute Hayden I use Facebook for groups for the political discussion groups because I'm interested in politics these people just think just shout at my opinions because they're very right wing and it's really weird. Sometimes I post political opinions and instantly delete them because of employability because I'm very far left and I post stuff and employers don't really like that apparently. I backed out of it because I got quite scared looking at the Wiki of all these things, it's like, oh that's weird. Because I like the privacy because I just think that the government are going to bring back the Snooper’s Charter, I hide it - like I may use a Spanish IP sometimes -so it changes quite a lot.
  24. 24. Oxford Internet Institute Challenges • These teenagers operating multiple intersecting fields – methodologically very difficult to capture • Tension between (discursively constructed) power v agency e.g. gender • Positive deviance? • When untangling the circuits of symbolic power are existing agency/structure ontologies up to the job? • Position these practices relative to what we know about the digtial platform capitalism as a ruthless stratifier
  25. 25. Oxford Internet Institute In a nutshell Even in the digital age does ‘the tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living’ (Marx, 1852) ?