Chat rooms for teens that like talking about sex

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Many of the young people we spoke to said that they found this continual uncertainty exhilarating and very different from most of their day–to–day interactions with others (in ‘meat space’), in which role, status and rules constrain interaction within routine and highly predictable forms.

Chatrooms provide more than a stage for trying on new selves; the setting itself can become hyper–real, as all those who participate in it interact in the knowledge that ‘no–one is quite who they say they are’.

On the Internet, you are not restricted to trying on clothes, but can try on different names, origins, life histories, attitudes and opinions, different ways of relating to others, different ages and genders.

‘Blogging’ has some of the appeal of soap opera, as vernacular ‘stars’ arise, who keep journals which detail their personal lives, or more insidiously in some of the blogs found on sites that celebrate anorexia.

It is not unknown for girls and boys, and even researchers to take on new selves.

Sherry Turkle tells of her shock and surprise at entering a chatroom anonymously and encountering another Professor Turkle who was there doing research.

We use it to check train times, the price of plane tickets, the weather forecast, the availability of books, as a place to leave messages for our children, to make contact with people, to announce family news, to exchange photos and music, to apply for jobs, to chat with friends and with strangers, to research, to learn and to teach.

The Internet has become, for many of us, not only our primary source of information, but has extended and changed the scale of our social networks and the pace and intensity with which we interact with people: it has changed our identities (Mitchell, 2003).

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