Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Social Networking, Avatars and Child Development

A few more peices fell into place today. I finally had some time to sit down and begin the awesome task of finding the budding research about child development, specifically identity issues, and online avatars/social networking. It's time-consuming work because there is no definitive text. Marshall McLuhan started thinking about these issues in the 1970s, and of course Piaget and Erikson both performed copious research on identity in general. However, I have not come across anything substantial. Today, I learned about Dr. Marina Bers from an article in the Boston Globe. She has created a social networking space for children suffering from serious medical conditions. That's not really what's interesting, though. She's interesting because she has done research on identity and computer technology. I emailed her. I've got my fingers crossed. I also read a blog post by Larry Johnson about Avatars and identity. One of the folks who posted a response was a technology teacher in Florida. She's supposedly conducting research AS WE SPEAK on the very issue. I emailed her too.

Maybe they can help me figure out if I need to be more than lightly concerned about the students at my school having two (sometimes three or four) such disparate identities. Maybe they just learn to juggle identities like they juggle tasks. Maybe their brain really is able to separate out what is real and what is online. Maybe.

No comments: