Over two lectures in February 2008 and in April 2009, I invited nine children and teens to visit our Words of Childhood lecture hall to talk to me and my first year children’s studies students about their virtual lives. In February, for a lecture titled, “Children’s and Youth’s Real and Virtual Spaces,” five kids from six to sixteen years, showed us their favourite site. The following year, four seven to twelve year olds, once again demonstrated what made their number one site so hot.
While children’s bedrooms are real spaces, they exemplify the kinds of recognizable domestic sites reserved for the young that also include the rec room or family room. As a concept device, the term “children’s bedrooms” comes from Claudia Mitchell and Jacqueline Reid Walsh’s chapter “Physical Spaces: Children’s Bedrooms as Cultural Texts,” in Researching Children’s Popular Culture: The Cultural Spaces of Childhood (Routlegde 2002).
In preparation for the five guest panelists on Feb. 26, 2008, my students read two Mitchell and Reid-Walsh’s chapters: one on children’s physical spaces, the other on children’s virtual spaces. I wanted to explore with them and the guests how young people saw the relationship between their bedrooms and the Internet activities.
On April 14th 2009, my question to each of the children and young teens was “What can you do online that you can’t do in the real world?”