Friday, November 16, 2007

Mom, get off the phone!

comic from

A recent study has (unsurprisingly) discovered that teens use IM more than adults, apparently to avoid embarrassing themselves. Afraid Johnny won't want to go out on a date with you? Just IM him, and then close the window if he says "no." That way he won't see you get embarrassed and you can run away. One kid broke up with his girlfriend this way, which he claims probably saved him from bodily harm (haha). Does anyone else think that maybe the phone would have accomplished that same goal without being completely impersonal?

I think one of the main reasons that teens prefer personal conversations to be on instant messenger instead of the phone or in person is that they can't be easily overheard. At school or around town, if a kid makes a fool of him/herself many of his/her peers or complete strangers will witness it. For a teenager, that is potentially devastating (even if only in his/her own mind). At home one's parents or sibling could overhear any spoken conversation, which takes away one's privacy. For a teenager this is of course not acceptable, as obviously parents have no right to know what their kids say to their friends. So I don't think that teens necessarily want to avoid embarrassment with the people they talk to on IM, but that they want to keep other people from knowing of their embarrassment. Because, like, you know, that would be totally uncool.

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