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Stephanie's October Conference Tour: SHiFT [en]

Stephanie's October Conference Tour: SHiFT [en]

[fr] La conférence SHiFT a lieu du 15 au 17 octobre à Lisbonne. J'y parlerai des conférences que je donne depuis bientôt quatre ans dans les écoles. Il est encore possible de s'inscrire pour assister à la conférence, faites vite!

Well, here we are. I should have blogged about this long ago, but without getting into the details of these past weeks, it’s been kinda… busy here lately.

October is conference month in Stephanie-land. I leave on Tuesday. Let’s see what we have in store. First conference:

SHiFT, 15-17 October 2008, Lisbon

SHiFT - Social and Human Ideas For Technology I was present at the first edition of SHiFT in 2006, and really liked this Reboot– and LIFT-inspired event. Smaller scale than both of them, SHiFT is set in beautiful Lisbon and has a very nice atmosphere. I heard some great talks and met some incredible people in 2006, and I’m looking forward to more this year.

I’m really excited that I’ve been invited to speak, and will for the first time cover and comment on the work I’ve been doing in schools for nearly four years in schools, raising awareness about digital media issues with teenagers, teachers, and parents, in “What do teenagers, teachers, and parents need to understand“.

Even if you don’t work with teenagers or in a school setting, and don’t have any teenage children, I think you’ll find my talk interesting. I would really like to encourage you to attend. I’m saying this because I’ll be talking about what feels to me like my most meaningful work, and I want to share it. The thinking and issues behind it go way beyond educational settings, as I explain in my recent comments following a radio show about Facebook in Swiss companies, and the complete ignorance of what may seem basic digital media awareness in those environments — both on the part of employees and company management.

I’m not danah or Anastasia and my book project is on hold ;-), but I’ve learnt over the years that though it may not have seemed extraordinary to me at first, I have acquired some valuable insights about online behaviours of both adults and teenagers, and I’m really happy to have a chance to share them with my digitally clued-in peers.

If you hadn’t planned to attend SHiFT, hurry up and register. It’s last-minute but it’s still possible. EasyJet and TAP flights will take you to Lisbon from most places in Europe.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

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Ressources for Parents and Teachers (ISL Talks on Social Networking) [en]

Ressources for Parents and Teachers (ISL Talks on Social Networking) [en]

[fr] Quelques liens, points de départ pour mes deux conférences plus tard dans la journée (parents et enseignants, au sujet des adolescents et des réseaux sociaux comme Facebook).

I’m giving two talks today at the [ISL](, one for teachers and another for parents, about teenagers and social networking (that the request was specifically for “social networking” makes me happy, because we’re finally moving away from the whole “blog” thing). I think we’re moving away further and further from the “internet as library” metaphor, and the “internet as city/village” image is the one that most people are starting to have.

I have already gathered many links with useful information all over the place, but I think it’s a good thing to collect some of them here for easier access. If you’re reading this not long after I posted it, you’ll find a whole series of quotes in [my Tumblr](, too.

**General starting-points**

– my bookmarks tagged [teens](, [youth](, [fear](, [digitalyouth](, [edublogging]( (click on “related tags” at the top right of each page to explore more)
– search Wikipedia for [Bebo](, [Facebook](, [MySpace](, etc
– search [digital youth on Google]( for educational resources and research
– visit [Facebook](, [MySpace]( or [skyrock]( to explore or create a profile there

**Fear of sexual predators**

This is by large the most important fear linked to teenagers and the internet. Thankfully, it is much exaggerated and no more of concern than fear of predators *offline*. Three starting-points:

– [Predator Panic: Reality Check on Sex Offenders](
– [MySpace Banning Sex Offenders: Online Predator Paranoia]( (contains relevant quotes and figures from [a 2007 research presentation]( one can view/read in full online)
– [My Advice to Parents](

**The real issues**

You’ll see that these are much less “newsworthy” than sexual predators.

– privacy (in the sense of revealing too much about yourself or in an inappropriate context, which leads to embarrassement or social problems) — a look at Facebook privacy settings
– permanence of online media
– weakness of anonymity
– misunderstanding of how online interactions affect communication and relationships (“chat effect”, flame wars…)
– [slide-show of a presentation I gave]( about the kind of mischief teenagers get upto on blogs (what I managed to lay my hands on, with screenshots — no fear, it’s pretty mild)
– intellectual property (copyright)
– necessary to move away from a model of “education through control” as everything is available at a click of a mouse (age-restricted content like porn, shopping, gambling)
– rumors, hoaxes and urban legends (use []( to debunk them)
– bullying and many other unpleasant online phenomenons are also offline phenomenons, but sometimes less visible to adults; the core issue does not change — if these problems are addressed properly offline, then they will also be online
– [cyberaddiction]( is not common at all, despite what some articles might want to have you believe — unhealthy usage of the computer usually is not the problem in itself, but an element of a larger problem which needs to be addressed
– the jury is still out on [gaming]( — though it’s clearly not healthy to be spending *too* much time immersed in interactive virtual worlds when you’re learning to get to grips with reality, it seems that participating in multi-player online games [can have a significant positive impact]( on ability to work in teams and solve problems creatively

**Other links or comments**

– [Notes of round table discussion with 4 International School teenagers from the Geneva region](
– [blog of “web2.0-enabled” educator Ewan McIntosh](
– [blog of danah boyd, PhD researcher on youth and digital spaces](
– tip for teachers present in social networks where students are: make “public” part of profile “school-compatible”, don’t send out friend requests to students, but accept incoming ones (people outside the teaching sphere have similar issues between “personal life” and “business)
– the computer is not the only device which gives access to the living web
– [should parents spy on their kids online? (Facebook)](
– a good book for parents: [Totally Wired: What Teens and Tweens Are Really Doing Online](
– beyond teenagers, into business (there are many, but two pointers): [How Blogging Brings Dialogue to Corporate Communications](, and [The Cluetrain Manifesto](, a book that gives you the bigger picture

I will probably add to this article later on, following the requests made during the talks. If you want to suggest a topic or ask a question, feel free to do so in the comments.

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LIFT'08: David Brown Workshop — Teenagers and Generation Y [en]

LIFT'08: David Brown Workshop — Teenagers and Generation Y [en]

[fr] Notes prises lors de LIFT'08. Workshop sous forme de table ronde avec 4 ados de 16-17 ans, étudiants à l'école internationale de Founex.

*I took these notes at LIFT’08 in February, and am only publishing them now, I’m afraid!*

*Workshop notes with real live teenagers! No guarantee as to how exact
my notes are… etc.*

Panel with real teenagers LIFT08

Four teenagers from the International School of Founex

Trying to formalize things. A bunch of themes/apps to approach this session:

Social networks, IM, Music, Video/Films, E-mail, Blogs, Niche Web2.0,
Location based, Connectivity (what hardware?), Phone SMS, Own tools,
Wow and virtual worlds… Real world.

Friends/social circle, buying/e-commerce/for free,
advertising/marketing/messages, geographical distance, homework,
privacy security personal data, organising, fragmentation

Going round the room to see who is who and what their interest in
teenagers and the net is.

*steph-note: worried that the approach here might be a little too

Teens (seem like a highly educated, very literate bunch, critical;
international school!):

Chloe: Facebook to communicate with teachers, a lot for school. Not a
gamer, more of a social/pictures person. Maths homework via internet
(Mathletics). 2h a night.

Luisa (?): 16 — Facebook to communicate with each other, organise
meetings, not a gamer.

Elliot: not much of a computer-user, heavy mobile phone user
(text/calling), would play games (was denied electronics until he was
12). Facebook: good way of archiving who your friends are and what
they look like — good way to communicate by replying in your own

Liam: typical: video games, music (not a hardcore gamer though),
Facebook to keep track of friends (social circle online and offline
overlap). Wikipedia saves your life for homework.

Elliot: FB = great way of controlling the photos of you other people
are posting on the internet.

Liam: used to use MySpace but now really identified with Emos… so.

Chloe: used to have a skyblog, had lots of french-speaking friends. In
the international world, more Facebook. Was one of the first in her
school to have FB, as one of her best friends moved to the US and they
had it there.

ELuisa: FB really helps you keep up-to-date with people you’ve met
over the summer. With e-mail, your friendship wears out.

Liam: regular e-mail is good for attachments.

Luisa: it’s weird to have your teacher as your friend. *steph-note:
they don’t want to know too much about their teachers lives*

Chloe: concerned about providing stalker material (cleaned up and
deleted many people she didn’t really know). Didn’t realise that
everybody in the Switzerland network could see all her info — changed
the setting, and is spreading the word around her, even to her

My parents use the internet to work/communicate (use FB e.g.) so quite
open-minded. Used to ask for her e-mail password in case anything
happened, but Chloe doesn’t really think it’s necessary.

Luisa: keeping up on FB gives you something to talk about when you go
back — you’re up-to-date.

Never considered using Skyblog as public, and parents uncomfortable.
FB: more control and privacy, feels comfortable with it.

Elliot: couple of friends of mine rejected from universities based on
their FB page.

Chloe: Rumors?

Elliot: heard that some employers now demand access to your FB page
(but could be untrue). FB information is rather light-hearted, likes
and dislikes, etc — not really the business of the school or the

My question:

– how much of a threat do sexual predators online seem to you?
– do you feel that holding back personal information keeps you safer?

Chloe: not that concerned (from what I understand), doesn’t think that
holding back information keeps her safer — weirdos can get that info
anyway. *steph-note: good for her!* Weird IM people: blocks them.

Luisa: less concerned than she feels she should.

Elliot: more concerned about internet fraud. (E-bay.)

Question: buying online?

Answer: not much (trust, likes going into shops and talking to people)

Chloe: doesn’t like the idea of paying by credit card.

Luisa: amazon++ that’s ok.

Q: concert tickets

Elliot: yeah, tickets often available only online — got semi-scammed once.

(The panel seems divided on online shopping.)

Luisa: convenience vs. safety (giving your credit card number)

Elliot: quite wary of using the credit cards he has, because he knows
he’s being tracked quite closely.

Comment: the teenagers here have little “positive” experience of using
their credit cards to counter-balance the media scare about issues
like fraud or identity theft — which can explain their general

Chloe: her dad and her do grocery shopping online on, and
she’s comfortable with that. Useful.

Luisa, Liam: really weird to go shopping for clothes and food on the internet.

Elliot: gets information in the store and order it online.

Our panel doesn’t seem that familiar with the “go in town, take
photos, post them on facebook, get feedback, buy online” method.

Luisa: more “funny” pictures from changing rooms, but wouldn’t really
put them on FB.

girls: ask opinion about shopping for clothes to offline friends with
them, but wouldn’t do it via the internet. So much more fun to do it
offline. No fun to do it over the internet.

My question: plagiarism in homework

Answer: systems in place in school to detect it, don’t do it — know
people who have gotten away with it, but this is more something the
younger grades do. Doesn’t make much sense because you can’t fake oral

Elliot: wikipedia not regarded as a good source.

Liam: because anybody can write what they want on it.

Got to be careful with what you find in wikipedia. Experimented with
putting BS into pages just to see they could.

Music creation and writing on the computer. Picture editing.

Consensus: online doesn’t beat the real world.

Luisa: a good photographer is not somebody who’s skilled in photoshop,
it’s somebody who takes a good picture.

Some consensus here that digital art is “less” than using classical
techniques. Don’t feel “creative” in front of a computer.

Comment: you guys actually look down to things that are easy.
*steph-note: spot on*

*steph-note: interesting how fascinated we adults are to have a chance
to actually talk with teenagers!*

*steph-note: conversation is interesting but going off-topic as far as
I’m concerned (about being critical in general, having role-models).*

Elliot: technology makes it easier to be critical and determine if
what is said in a lecture is a widespread view or not, etc.

Question: do you have any role-models? *steph-note: imho badly
phrased… need to be more concrete: who do you look upto? admire?*

Discussion about music downloading. Awareness that they have the means
to buy the music they like (wealthy enough).

Luisa: “the internet isn’t the only way of spreading…(the word?)”.
Doing things for real (building a schoolroom in tanzania) has more
impact on me than buying a cow through the internet.

Not much webcam use (just Chloe, friends in the states).

*steph-note: sorry, tuning out — could have done with a break but
didn’t push for it.*

Discussion about creative commons and copyright. No perception that
photographs you find in Google are not free of rights. Seems to be a
lot of confusion about copyright regarding images/photographs.
Contrast with discourse about music downloading.

Blogs: a fashion that has gone past. *steph-note: confirms what I
thought, and also why I’m not asked in for talks in schools as much as
before. I think FB and social networking in general are “replacing”
blogs for teenagers. In francophonia though, I guess FB hasn’t taken
off, so it will still be Skyrock. But it’s called Skyrock now, and not

Less use of MSN, but Skype and Facebook.

Elliot: in the UK, Blackberry

This bunch are the student council, go on humanitarian trips, etc. Not
the most tech-savvy necessarily, but talkative!


Data usage: this is Switzerland! Data is horrendously expensive, and
it’s not in the culture to use it.

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Reading the Ofcon Report on Social Networking: Stats, Stranger Danger, Perceived Risk [en]

Reading the Ofcon Report on Social Networking: Stats, Stranger Danger, Perceived Risk [en]

[fr] Le Daily Mail remet ça aujourd'hui, abasourdi de découvrir que les adolescents rencontrent "offline" des étrangers d'internet. Il va donc falloir que j'écrive le fameux billet auquel j'ai fait allusion dernièrement, mais avant cela, je suis en train de lire le rapport sur lequel se basent ces articles alarmés et bien-pensants.

Ce billet contient quelques commentaires sur la situation en général, ainsi que mes notes de lecture -- citations et commentaires -- du début de ce rapport de l'Ofcon.

I don’t know if I’ll get around to writing about the [teen cleavage scare]( before the story goes completely cold, but in my endeavour to offer a balanced criticism of what’s going on here, I’m currently reading the [Ofcon Social Networking Report which was released on April 2]( and prompted this new wave of [“think of the children” media coverage]( The Daily Mail is at it today again, with the stunning and alarming news that [teenagers are meeting “strangers” from the internet offline]( (big surprise). I find it heartening, though, that the five reader comments to this article as of writing are completely sensible in playing down the “dangers” regularly touted by the press and the authorities.

Here are the running notes of my reading of this report. I might as well publish them as I’m reading. Clearly, the report seems way more balanced than the Daily Mail coverage (are we surprised?) which contains lots of figures taken out of context. However, there is still stuff that bothers me — less the actual results of the research (which are facts, so they’re good) than the way some of them are presented and the interpretations a superficial look at them might lead one to make (like, sorry to say, much of the mainstream press).

Here we go.

> Social networking sites also have
some potential pitfalls to negotiate, such as the unintended consequences of publicly posting
sensitive personal information, confusion over privacy settings, and contact with people one
doesn’t know.

Ofcon SN Report, page 1

Good start, I think that the issues raise here make sense. However, I would put “contact with people one doesn’t know” in “potential pitfalls”. (More about this lower down.)

> Ofcom research shows that just over one fifth (22%) of adult internet users aged 16+ and
almost half (49%) of children aged 8-17 who use the internet have set up their own profile on
a social networking site. For adults, the likelihood of setting up a profile is highest among
16-24 year olds (54%) and decreases with age.

Ofcon SN Report, page 5

This is to show that SNs are more popular amongst younger age groups. It makes sense to say that half of 8-17 year olds have a profile on SN site to compare it with the 22% of 16+ internet users or the 54% of 16-24 year olds. Bear in mind that these are *percentages of internet users* — they do not include those who do not go online.

However, saying “OMG one out of two 8-17 year olds has a profile on a SN site” in the context of “being at risk from paedophiles” is really not very interesting. Behaviour of 8 year olds and 17 year olds online cannot be compared at all in that respect. You can imagine a 16 year old voluntarily meeting up to have sex with an older love interest met on the internet. Not an 8 year old. In most statistics, however, both fall into the category of “paedophilia” when the law gets involved.

> 27% of 8-11 year olds who are aware of social networking sites say that they have a profile on a site

Ofcon SN Report, page 5

I’d like to draw you attention on the fact that this is 27% of 8-11 year olds **who are aware of social networking sites**.

> Unless otherwise stated, this report uses the term ‘children’ to include all young people aged 8-17.

Ofcon SN Report, page 5

I don’t like this at all, because as stated above, particularly when it comes to concerns about safety one *cannot* simply lump that agegroup into a practical “children”, which plays well with “child abuse”. In the US, cases of “statutory rape” which might very well have been consensual end up inflating the statistics on “children falling victim to sexual predators online”.

> Although contact lists on sites talk about ’friends’, social networking sites stretch the
traditional meaning of ‘friends’ to mean anyone with whom a user has an online connection.
Therefore the term can include people who the user has never actually met or spoken to.
Unlike offline (or ‘real world’) friendship, online friendships and connections are also
displayed in a public and visible way via friend lists.
> The public display of friend lists means that users often share their personal details online
with people they may not know at all well. These details include religion, political views,
sexuality and date of birth that in the offline world a person might only share only with close
> While communication with known contacts was the most popular social
networking activity, 17 % of adults used their profile to communicate with
people they do not know. This increases among younger adults.

Ofcon SN Report, page 7

Right. This is problematic too. And it’s not just the report’s fault. The use of “friend” to signify contact contributes to making the whole issue of “online friendship” totally inpenetrable to those who are not immersed in online culture. The use of “know” is also very problematic, as it tends to be understood that you can only “know” somebody offline. Let’s try to clarify.

First, it’s possible to build relationships and friendships (even loves!) online. Just like in pre-internet days you could develop a friendship with a pen-pal, or kindle a nascent romance through letters, you can get to know somebody through text messages, IM, blog postings, presence streams, Skype chats and calls, or even mailing-list and newsgroup postings. I hope that it will soon be obvious to everybody that it is possible to “know” somebody without actually having met them offline.

So, there is a difference between “friends” that “you know” and “SN friends aka contacts” which you might in truth not really know. But you can see how the vocabulary can be misleading here.

I’d like to take the occasion to point out one other thing that bothers me here: the idea that contact with “strangers” or “people one does not know” is a thing worth pointing out. So, OK, 17% of adults in the survey, communicated with people they “didn’t know”. I imagine that this is “didn’t know” in the “offline person”‘s worldview, meaning somebody that had never been met physically (maybe the study gives more details about that). But even if it is “didn’t know” as in “complete stranger” — still, why does it have to be pointed out? Do we have statistics on how many “strangers” we communicate with offline each week?

It seems to me that *because this is on the internet*, strangers are perceived as a potential threat, in comparison to people we already know. As far as abuse goes, in the huge, overwhelming, undisputed majority of cases, the abuser was known (and even well known) to the victim. Most child sexual abuse is commited by people in the family or very close social circle.

I had hoped that in support of what I’m writing just now, I would be able to state that “stranger danger” was behind us. Sadly, a quick [search on Google]( shows that I’m wrong — it’s still very much present. I did, however, find [this column which offers a very critical view of how much danger strangers actually do represent for kids]( and the harmful effects of “stranger danger”. Another nice find was this [Families for Freedom Child Safety Bulletin](, by a group who seems to share the same concerns I do over the general scaremongering around children.

> Among those who reported talking to people they didn’t know, there were significant
variations in age, but those who talked to people they didn’t know were significantly more
likely to be aged 16-24 (22% of those with a social networking page or profile) than 25-34
(7% of those with a profile). In our qualitative sample, several people reported using sites in
this way to look for romantic interests.

Ofcon SN Report, page 7

Meeting “online people” offline is more common amongst the younger age group, which is honestly not a surprise. At 34, I sometimes feel kind of like a dinosaur when it comes to internet use, in the sense that many of my offline friends (younger than me) would never dream of meeting somebody from “The Internets”. 16-24s are clearly digital natives, and as such, I would expect them to be living in a world where “online” and “offline” are distinctions which do not mean much anymore (as they do not mean much to me and many of the other “online people” of my generation or older).

> The majority of comments in our qualitative sample were positive about social networking. A
few users did mention negative aspects to social networking, and these included annoyance
at others using sites for self-promotion, parties organised online getting out of hand, and
online bullying.

Ofcon SN Report, page 7

This is interesting! Real life experience from real people with social networks. Spam, party-crashing and bullying (I’ll have much more to say about this last point later on, but in summary, address the bullying problem at the source and offline, and don’t blame the tool) are mentioned as problems. Unwanted sexual sollicitations or roaming sexual predators do not seem to be part of the online experience of the people interviewed in this study. Strangely, this fits with my experience of the internet, and that of almost everybody I know. (Just like major annoyances in life for most people, thankfully, are not sexual harrassment — though it might be for some, and that really sucks.)

> The people who use social networking sites see them as a fun and easy leisure activity.
Although the subject of much discussion in the media, in Ofcom’s qualitative research
privacy and safety issues on social networking sites did not emerge as ‘top of mind’ for most
users. In discussion, and after prompting, some users in the qualitative study did think of
some privacy and safety issues, although on the whole they were unconcerned about them.
> In addition, our qualitative study found that all users, even those who were confident with
ICT found the settings on most of the major social networking sites difficult to understand
and manipulate.

Ofcon SN Report, page 7-8

This is really interesting too. But how do you understand it? I read: “It’s not that dangerous, actually, if those people use SN sites regularly without being too concerned, and the media are making a lot of fuss for nothing.” (Ask people about what comes to mind about driving a car — one of our regular dangerous activities — and I bet you more people than in that study will come up with safety issues; chances are we’ve all been involved in a car crash at some point, or know somebody who has.) Another way of reading it could be “OMG, even with all the effort the media are putting into raising awareness about these problems, people are still as naive and ignorant! They are in danger!”. What will the media choose to understand?

The study points out the fact that privacy settings are hard to understand and manipulate, and I find this very true. In doubt or ignorance, most people will “not touch” the defaults, which are generally too open. I say “too open” with respect to privacy in the wide sense, not in the “keep us safe from creeps” sense.

This brings me to a comment I left earlier on [an article on ComMetrics about what makes campaigns against online pedophiles fail]( It’s an interesting article, but as I explain in the comment, I think it misses an important point:

>There is a bigger issue here — which I try to explain each time I get a chance, to the point I’m starting to feel hoarse.

>Maybe the message is not the right one? The campaign, as well as your article, takes as a starting point that “adults posing as kids” are the threat that chatrooms pose to our children.

>Research shows that this is not a widespread risk. It also shows that there is no correlation between handing out personal information online and the risk of falling victim to a sexual predator. Yet our campaigns continue to be built on the false assumptions that not handing out personal information will keep a kid “safe”, and that there is danger in the shape of people lying about their identity, in the first place.

>There is a disconnect between the language the campaigns speak and what they advocate (you point that out well in your article, I think), and the experience kids and teenagers have of life online (“they talk to strangers all the time, and nothing bad happens; they meet people from online, and they are exactly who they said they were; hence, all this “safety” information is BS”). But there is also a larger disconnect, which is that the danger these campaigns claim to address is not well understood. Check out the 5th quote in the long article I wrote on the subject at the time of the MySpace PR stunt about deleting “sex offenders'” profiles.

>I will blog more about this, but wanted to point this out here first.

Yes, I will blog more about this. I think this post of notes and thoughts is long enough, and it’s time for me to think about sleeping or putting a new bandage on my scraped knee. Before I see you in a few days for the next bout of Ofcon Report reading and commentating, however, I’ll leave you with the quote I reference in the comment above (it can’t hurt to publish it again):

Now, on the case of internet sex crimes against kids, I’m concerned
that we’re already off to a bad start here. The public and the
professional impression about what’s going on in these kinds of
crimes is not in sync with the reality, at least so far as we can
ascertain it on the basis of research that we’ve done. And this
research has really been based on some large national studies of
cases coming to the attention of law enforcement as well as to large
national surveys of youth.

If you think about what the public impression is about this crime,
it’s really that we have these internet pedophiles who’ve moved
from the playground into your living room through the internet
connection, who are targeting young children by pretending to be
other children who are lying about their ages and their identities and
their motives, who are tricking kids into disclosing personal
information about themselves or harvesting that information from
blogs or websites or social networking sites. Then armed with this
information, these criminals stalk children. They abduct them.
They rape them, or even worse.

But actually, the research in the cases that we’ve gleaned from
actual law enforcement files, for example, suggests a different
reality for these crimes. So first fact is that the predominant online
sex crime victims are not young children. They are teenagers.
There’s almost no victims in the sample that we collected from – a
representative sample of law enforcement cases that involved the
child under the age of 13.

In the predominant sex crime scenario, doesn’t involve violence,
stranger molesters posing online as other children in order to set up
an abduction or assault. Only five percent of these cases actually
involved violence. Only three percent involved an abduction. It’s
also interesting that deception does not seem to be a major factor.
Only five percent of the offenders concealed the fact that they were
adults from their victims. Eighty percent were quite explicit about
their sexual intentions with the youth that they were communicating

So these are not mostly violence sex crimes, but they are criminal
seductions that take advantage of teenage, common teenage
vulnerabilities. The offenders lure teens after weeks of
conversations with them, they play on teens’ desires for romance,
adventure, sexual information, understanding, and they lure them to
encounters that the teams know are sexual in nature with people who
are considerably older than themselves.

So for example, Jenna – this is a pretty typical case – 13-year-old
girl from a divorced family, frequented sex-oriented chat rooms, had
the screen name “Evil Girl.” There she met a guy who, after a
number of conversations, admitted he was 45. He flattered her, gave
– sent her gifts, jewelry. They talked about intimate things. And
eventually, he drove across several states to meet her for sex on
several occasions in motel rooms. When he was arrested in her
company, she was reluctant to cooperate with the law enforcement

David Finkelhor, in panel Just The Facts About Online Youth Victimization: Researchers Present the Facts and Debunk Myths, May 2007

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Daily Mail Shocked by Teen Cleavage [en]

Daily Mail Shocked by Teen Cleavage [en]

[fr] Encore une panique au sujet des photos d'ados sur les réseaux sociaux. Gardez la tête froide. Vais bloguer si j'ai le temps ces prochains jours.

[Kevin Marks]( [tweets](

> Daily Mail is shocked, shocked to find teenage cleavage on Bebo; reprints it in the paper, beside *their* bikini stories

The article in question, available online, is [Millions of girls using Facebook, Bebo and Myspace ‘at risk’ from paedophiles and bullies](

No time to read it in full now, or blog about it as I should, but a couple of reminders:

– Keep your head cool and [check out the facts](
– Don’t fall for the [online predator paranoia](
– Here’s a link to the [source report]( — do your homework before reblogging the Daily Mail
– Link to [other news sources on the topic]( to explore
– [Some advice to parents](

And if you were wondering, yes, I [give talks on the subject]( in schools (in French or English). List of [past talks]( [More information on that in French](

I was interviewed a bit less than a year ago by the BBC around fear parents were feeling about Facebook:

If I have time, I’ll try to blog about this tomorrow, but the stack of *things to do right now* is quite high, and I’m not sure I’ll get around to doing it before this is cold.

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LIFT08: Pierre Bellanger (Skyrock) [en]

LIFT08: Pierre Bellanger (Skyrock) [en]

[fr] Conférence de Pierre Bellanger, patron de Skyrock (skyblog), à la conférence LIFT08.

*Note: live notes, probably incomplete, possibly misunderstood. Intro: SkyBlog is the biggest blogging platform in Europe / SkyRock radio.*

LIFT08 022

Is going to speak about the future. Founder and CEO of — will speak about their vision of social networking, and why it’s the future.

Skyrock started as a pirate radio station. Became a national radio network after a few years. 13-24 year olds.

Blogging platform. Very basic, easy to use. Profiles. 2nd French site in page views. 1st French-speaking social network in the world.

Started the SN in 2002. Thinking about the next stages. Numbers:

LIFT08 025 Skyrock Numbers (Pierre Bellanger)

Goal: be the world teenager social network. For that, need to change constantly. Netamorphosis. Where do we go from now?

Understand what we are better. Need to go back to what we were, e-mail — the mother of all social networks. E-mail and the web gave birth to meta information. Search and social network.

SN is to mail what search is to the web. A new level of metadata, information about people.

Teenagers are extremely productive. Lots of contacts. The blog is a revolution, because it becomes your new e-mail address, your new digital identity. The centre of electronic exchanges. The social network is the future of telecommunications.

The value is shifting from bandwidth to programming code. Changing internet providers is much easier than changing your e-mail client. Same with social networks. Skyrock wants the social network to be at the core of all exchanges.

For that, important to think mobile. Go for IM rather than trying to stick poor web pages on that tiny screen. Merge the SN and the IM.

Social operating system.

*steph-note: snipping a bunch of technical stuff — too stressed by my upcoming Open Stage speech!*

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A Day at the Frankfurter Buchmesse [en]

A Day at the Frankfurter Buchmesse [en]

[fr] Etat des lieux sur mes recherches de fonds et exploration du monde de l'édition pour mon livre sur les ados et internet. Envies de publier (via internet) des livres avec mes photos, aussi.

A month or two ago, I was chatting about [my book project](/categories/livre/) and [decision to find funding]( to [Joi]( He suggested that a trip to the [Frankfurt book fair]( might be useful.

First on, the Messe is just *huge*. I spent a morning there and just walked, and walked, and walked. Overall, I found my visit rather disappointing, though I did learn some useful things (though they weren’t exactly what I wanted to hear). Here’s the information I gathered, from a visit to the Swiss booth and discussions with a few people.

– I have a list of Swiss (French-speaking) publishers, and a shortlist of 4-5 who could be suitable for my project.
– Publishers, distributors, and bookstores are all part of the same organisation (in CH).
– The market is saturated, publishers are swamped with manuscripts, and it’s even worse in France than Switzerland (so, I should stick with local publishers — the fact I’m already recognised as a local authority also pushes in that direction).
– I can forget about a deal with an advance, so I need to look at other sources to finance the *writing* part (Loterie Romande, educational associations, foundations… I’ll hunt around a bit to compile a list.)
– Swiss publishers don’t like agents, and having one might make it even more difficult for me to find a publisher.
– The publisher deals with the printing guys to get the book published, and deals with the distribution guys to get it distributed. [Hunter](, a seasoned bookwriter, tells me that unless I’m getting a huge advance, having a publisher is not worth it — I can deal with printers and distributors myself. Will just have to check if this is a viable approach in the Swiss market.
– The publisher is precious for the editing process, because he knows what is good and what is not, the head of this Swiss association tells me. Hunter, on the contrary, tells me this mostly gets in the way. A good editor can be precious but chances are I won’t be getting one.
– If I go the self-publishing way (offline), then I’ll need funding for the printing, which could be a problem.
– One option, which Joi suggests and I’d been getting at, is to start off by online-self-publishing (Lulu, Blurb, or another), and once there is enough buzz, sales, reviews, etc, approaching publishers.
– I really need to work on a proper proposal, and I have a better understanding of what such a proposal needs to look like. I got some advice from talking with a publisher over dinner (thanks again!) and Chris Webb left me a pointer to [his interesting series on book proposals]( in the comments to [my previous post]( From what I gather, the more there is in the proposal, the better.

So, where do I go from now?

– **Write a proper proposal in French** (as the book will be in French). This obviously needs to be broken down into manageable pieces (GTD-style), and I realise that the big nasty bit for me is the outline. I have tons of ideas of stuff that I want to put in the book, but I’m not sure how to organise it all yet. I’ve been mind-mapping, but it’s a bit overwhelming and messy. So I’ll start by writing all the rest (the easy bits).
– **Write a project funding proposal** which will probably not be as detailed as the one for the publisher.
– Ask around for leads to getting funding, compile a list, send out funding requests with proposal.
– Send the proposal to the 4-5 publishers on the list, once it’s done.

Language? Isn’t it kind of weird I’m speaking about this in English? On the other hand, I don’t want to “cut out” my English network by blogging exclusively in French about this book project.

All this thinking about self-publishing has given me the desire to put together one or more photo books. I’ve barely been printing since I went digital, and it’s nice to have photos in physical form too, as [Moo](’s success demonstrates. My friend [Andrea Lindenberg]( has put together a [collection of her best riding show photographs]( — if you like horses, you should definitely check it out. She’s very talented.

My [Flickr photo collection]( is approaching 10’000 photos. So, again, the inevitable **choice** problem. I’ll certainly make a book of my best Indian photos at some point (most of them aren’t on Flickr but are either slides (first trip), negatives (second trip), or digital-[dumped-in-directories]( (third trip). I have a set called [My Favourites](, but it’s very out-of-date and doesn’t contain any recent photos. I can probably dig out the photos I use for Moo cards or stickers and add them, though.

Any opinions? If you see any photos of mine that you think deserve ending up in the (a) photo book, don’t hesitate to tag them “forthebook”. Thanks!

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First Draft of Book Presentation [en]

First Draft of Book Presentation [en]

[fr] Un premier jet de ce que pourrait être une présentation de mon projet de livre, en anglais.

*// Here’s a first draft of what a short presentation of [my book project]( would be. Comments and nitpicking welcome. Is this convincing? Does it sound solid?*

#### A Book About Teenagers and the Internet

Teenagers are very active internet users. Parents and educators, however, less so. There is often quite a bit of confusion over what teenagers are doing online and how risky their online occupations are. Attitudes range from complete lack of interest (probably fuelled by fear of technological incompetence) to outright panic (particularly about sexual predators, with complicity of the media).

Adults who are not particularly internet-savvy (and even those who are familiar with it) need a sane guide to precisely what all this “online stuff” is about. What is beneficial? What is harmless? Where are the real dangers? How does being “totally wired” (in Anastasia Goodstein’s terms) influence relationships and social life?

This book will be is a guide to understanding today’s online world, aimed at parents, teachers, and educators. It will helps them make informed educational decisions about teenagers’ use of the internet. The focus will be is on de-dramatizing a lot of the “risks” the mainstream media have been very vocal about (sexual predators, for instance) and on promoting a deep understanding of how online and offline are integrated in teens’ lives. This brings about new issues with are maybe not dramatic, but which can be challenging for our youth, and which they should not have to face without the support of the adults they love or trust in their lives.

Part “tourist guide to the online world”, part essay, this book should be is a precious ally for those living or working with teenagers, and who sometimes feel at loss with what the internet is all about;, as well as contributing it also contributes to a more general understanding of how the internet is changing our lives.

#### About the Author

Stephanie Booth has been a very active and respected online citizen for close to ten years. After graduating in arts (Indian religions and culture, philosophy, French), she worked first as a project manager and then as a middle-school teacher. She left teaching in 2006 to devote herself exclusively to helping others understand internet culture and technology, and make good use of it.

An important part of her work has been giving lectures in French-speaking Switzerland about “the living internet” (blogging, instant messaging…) to teenagers, parents, and schoolteachers. Her extensive personal experience of “internet life” married to a strong academic background and her ability to explain tricky concepts to a variety of audiences in a down-to-earth and convincing fashion have led her to be recognized by both the media and school authorities as an expert on “teenagers and internet” issues.

She has been writing regularly on her blog Climb to the Stars for over seven years, both in English and in French. A lot of her thinking about the internet can be found there.

#### Contents

– Kids online, parents offline: why is it a problem?
– How teenagers use the internet: it’s a town, not a library
– Where can it go wrong?
– Core online publication issues: anonymity, permanence, findability
– How afraid should we be of sexual predators?
– How online communication affects relationships
– What can parents do?
– The bigger picture: media education

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Comment j'en suis arrivée à m'intéresser aux blogs d'adolescents [fr]

Comment j'en suis arrivée à m'intéresser aux blogs d'adolescents [fr]

[en] The story of how I took an interest in teenage blogging, and from there, teenagers and the internet. It involves a difficult first year of teaching and a naked bottom on one of my students' skyblogs.

*// Entrée en matière possible pour mon [livre](, dans le genre “premier jet écrit dans le train”. Commentaires et suggestions bienvenus, comme toujours.*

Au début des années 2000, je me souviens qu’on plaisantait entre blogueurs en se rappelant que d’après les quelques enquêtes disponibles sur le sujet, le “blogueur type” était une lycéenne québécoise de 15 ans. On était un peu consternés par la quantité d’adolescents blogueurs et la futilité (voire la bêtise) de leurs publications en ligne. “Complètement inintéressant, le blog est bien plus qu’un journal d’adolescente!” On continuait à bloguer dans notre coin, et les ados dans le leur.

*// Voir si j’arrive à trouver des références à ça.*

J’étais loin d’imaginer que cinq ans plus tard, les blogs d’adolescents m’auraient amené à changer de métier et à écrire un livre. Ce livre, vous l’avez entre les mains.

La genèse de mon intérêt pour la vie adolescente sur internet mérite d’être racontée. Elle permet de situer ma perspective. Mais, plus important, elle et illustre assez bien un des “problèmes” auxquels on peut se heurter si on fait l’économie de comprendre comment les adolescents vivent leurs activités sur internet.

Il y a quelques années de cela, j’ai quitté mon poste de chef de projet dans une grande entreprise suisse pour me tourner vers l’enseignement. Forte de mes respectables années d’expérience personnelle de la vie sur internet, je me suis lancée dans un projet de rédaction de blogs avec mes élèves.

Ce fut un désastre. Si j’étais bien une blogueuse adulte expérimentée, je me suis bien vite rendue compte que les “blogs” que je leur proposais avaient bien peu à voir avec ce dont ils avaient l’habitude dans leurs tribulations sur internet. Certains d’entre eux avaient des skyblogs (des blogs pour adolescents et jeunes, hébergés par le groupe Skyrock).

Munie de l’adresse d’un de ces skyblogs, j’ai commencé mes explorations du monde en ligne de mes élèves. Peut-être qu’en me familiarisant avec ce qu’ils faisaient déjà sur internet, je réussirais à mieux les comprendre, et trouverais ainsi des clés pour remettre sur pied un projet qui battait sérieusement de l’aile. Chaque skyblog arborait fièrement une liste de liens vers ceux des amis (“hors ligne” aussi bien que “en ligne”). Il suffisait de cliquer un peu pour faire le tour.

Sur ces skyblogs, comme je m’y attendais, rien de bien fascinant à mes yeux: beaucoup de photos (de soi-même, des copains et copines, du chien, du vélomoteur), du texte à l’orthographe approximative, voire carrément “SMS”, des appels aux commentaires (“lâchez vos coms!”) et, justement, des commentaires (souvent assez vides de contenu, mais qui jouaient clairement un rôle côté dynamique sociale).

Soudain, catastrophe: je me retrouve face à une paire de fesses, sur le skyblog d’un de mes élèves. Et pas juste des fesses d’affiche publicitaire pour sous-vêtements, non, les fesses d’un de ses camarades de classe, qui les expose visiblement tout à fait volontairement à la caméra.

Que faire? Intervenir, ou non? Ils ont beau être mes élèves, alimenter leurs skyblogs fait partie de leurs activités privées (par opposition à “scolaires”) et je suis tombée sur cette image un peu par hasard (ce n’est pas comme si un élève m’avait donné directement l’adresse pour que j’aille la regarder).

En même temps, puis-je ne pas réagir? Si cette photo était découverte plus tard et qu’elle soulevait un scandale, et qu’on apprenait que j’étais au courant mais que je n’avais rien dit… Je me doute bien qu’il y a derrière cette photo un peu de provocation et pas mal d’inconscience, plus que de malice.

*// Retrouver les dates d’expulsion des lycéens français — est-ce avant ou après ça?*

Jeune enseignante inexpérimentée, je me tourne vers mes supérieurs pour conseil. On discute un peu. On ne va pas en faire un fromage, mais on va demander au propriétaire du skyblog de retirer cette photo inconvenante — ce que je fais. Il accepte sans discuter, un peu surpris peut-être.

*// “Pour conseil” c’est français, ou c’est un anglicisme?*

*// Un autre élément qui est rentré en ligne de compte est que les photos avaient été prises (visiblement) dans les vestiaires de l’école. Pas certain que ce ne soit pas durant des activités extra-scolaires, cependant. Est-ce un détail utile?*

Une semaine plus tard, la photo est toujours en place. Je suis un peu étonnée, et je réitère ma demande auprès de l’élève blogueur. “Oui, mais Jean, il est d’accord que je laisse cette photo sur mon blog, ça le dérange pas, hein.” J’explique que là n’est pas la question, que c’est une demande qui émane de la direction, et que d’accord ou pas, “ça se fait pas” pour les élèves de notre établissement d’exposer leurs fesses au public sur internet.

*// J’ai l’impression que je traîne un peu en longueur, là. On s’ennuie? Les détails sont-ils utiles? Faut-il raccourcir?*

Le lendemain matin, je me retrouve littéralement avec une révolte sur les bras:

– “Pourquoi vous avez demandé à Jules de retirer la photo de son skyblog?”
– “Ça vous regarde pas! L’école n’a pas à s’en mêler!”
– “Vous aviez pas le droit d’en parler au directeur, c’est sa vie privée!”
– “Et qu’est-ce que vous faisiez sur son skyblog, d’abord?”
– “C’est son blog, il peut faire ce qu’il veut dessus! Et la liberté d’expression?”

Je suis sidérée par la violence des réactions. Certes, ma relation avec ces élèves n’est pas exactement idéale (c’est le moins qu’on puisse dire), mais là, ils sont complètement à côté de la plaque. Si l’élève en question avait affiché la photo de ses fesses dans le centre commercial du village, auraient-ils réagi aussi fortement si l’école (représentée par moi-même, en l’occurrence) avait demandé leur retrait?

*// Comment on dit “challenging” en français? (Pour décrire les élèves sans utiliser l’affreux “difficile”.)*

*// Le temps de narration change durant ce récit, vérifier si c’est “utile” ou si c’est “une erreur”.

Visiblement, ils considéraient ce qu’ils publiaient sur internet comme étant “privé” et semblaient ne pas avoir réellement pris conscience du caractère public de leurs skyblogs, ou du droit de quiconque d’y accéder et d’y réagir. Et pourtant, j’avais passé plusieurs heures avec ces mêmes élèves à préparer une charte pour la publication de leurs weblogs scolaires. Nous avions abordé ces points. Ils “savaient” qu’internet était un lieu public et que tout n’y était pas permis. Qu’est-ce qui s’était donc passé?

Cet incident particulier s’est terminé par une intervention énergique du directeur qui a remis quelques points sur quelques “i”. Restaient cependant deux problèmes de taille, que cette histoire avait rendus apparents:

– l’école a-t-elle un “devoir d’ingérence” lors d’événements impliquant les élèves mais sortant de son cadre strict — et si oui, où s’arrête-t-il?
– que pouvons-nous faire pour aider nos enfants et adolescents à devenir des “citoyens d’internet” informés et responsables?

La première question est du ressort des autorités scolaires, directions, enseignants — et je ne prétends pas apporter grand chose à ce débat ici.

La deuxième question, par contre, est l’objet de cet ouvrage.

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A Book on Teenagers and the Internet [en]

A Book on Teenagers and the Internet [en]

[fr] Malgré l'excellent travail de danah boyd et le livre d'Anastasia Goodstein ("Totally Wired"), je pense que mon projet de livre sur les adolescents et internet tient encore la route. Une petite argumentation à ce sujet.

*// After complaining for weeks that I wasn’t making any progress in writing my [book]( proposal in preparation for the [Frankfurt Book Fair]( I’m leaving for tomorrow, I finally started writing on the journey back home from London. Here’s some stuff in English. Your comments and suggestions are welcome, as always.*

I know of a couple of people in the English-speaking world who are doing great work on teenagers and the internet. One of them is [danah boyd]( She has traveled all over the US and interviewed dozens of teens for her PHD. Another is [Anastasia Goodstein](, who has written the excellent book “[Totally Wired](”, aimed at parents of today’s connected teenagers.

While reading “Totally Wired”, I have to admit I started rethinking my book project. I took the decision to write “The Book” because I noticed a huge void in the French-speaking world. No danah or Anastasia that I know of. Parents and educators need a sane book in French on teenagers and the internet, written by somebody who actually knows and understand the online world. Why not simply translate Anastasia’s book?

I’ve thought about it. For personal reasons, I do want to write a book, and this seems a good and useful subject for one. But is my personal desire to be a published author getting in the way of doing what makes most sense, and putting my energy where it will really be useful? I see two reasons for which this is not the case:

1. Anastasia’s book is US-centric. Although I believe that “internet culture” does not change radically from one part of the world to another, there are differences between the US and French-speaking Europe that need to be taken into account. I could provide this “European perspective”.

2. As a friend of mine told me, “this is important enough that we need more than one good book on the topic”. I can’t, of course, guarantee that my book will be “good”, but I promise that I’ll do my best. 😉

Parents and educators of Francophonia need a guide to their teenagers’ internet. And beyond that, we need to understand the impact all these technological spaces are having on the way we build relationships and relate to each other.

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