The Internet and Digital Identity

In their article titled Who am I Online, Wängqvist & Frisén discuss the implications of online spaces for adolescent identity development. The three key areas covered were identity exploration, self-presentations, and social interactions. In short, they highlight the ways in which the internet allows adolescents to express and explore their identity using the spaces provided online, and how this mode of expression differs from the real world. Offline, kids feel more constrained and limited compared to the anonymity and freedom that the internet allows. The internet gives them a place of their own to develop their identities. This is certainly true in my own experience, because the internet eliminates a lot of the anxieties and uncertainty that comes with interacting in person.

Alex Couros’ TEDtalk poses the question: how do we help… kids discover and experience the many emerging possibilities [of the internet] for networked human connection while allowing them to safely grow and share their identities and the identities of others,” (Couros). To answer, I think this starts with remaining connected with the people around us in order to establish boundaries around what responsible use of the internet is, without limiting each other to our own boxes. There is a balance that we need to find between leaving our friends to their own devices (no pun intended) and being invasive of each others privacy.

The portion about cyberbullying and the needless harm caused, even going as far as inducing suicide, requires us to make ourselves available to talk through problems we are having online. This seems especially important in the midst of an unprecedented mental health and drug crisis, specifically in the United States. As we move closer to the adolescent interview assignment, I’ve been pondering who to ask to interview and what to ask! This week was a good introduction/refresher on how the internet impacts us through development.

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Senior at the University of Minnesota, Studying Political Science

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Carter Dosmann

Senior at the University of Minnesota, Studying Political Science