Cyberkids? Exploring Children’s Identities and Social Networks in On-line and Off-line Worlds



In the first rush of academic and popular commentaries on cyberspace, a stark opposition has been drawn between off-line and on-line worlds—the “real” and “virtual.” Such understandings of the relationship between these spaces are now increasingly subject to critique, yet relatively little is known about how people actually employ information and communication technologies (ICT) within the context of their everyday lives. In this article, by drawing on research with children aged 11 – 16, we provide primary empirical material demonstrating how on-line spaces are used, encountered, and interpreted within the context of young people’s off-line everyday lives. In doing so we consider both how children’s “real” worlds are incorporated into their “virtual” worlds and how their “virtual” worlds are incorporated into their “real” worlds. In other words, we demonstrate how the real and the virtual are mutually constituted. We also reflect on some of the forms of “private” and “public” spaces constituted by children’s activities on and around the screen.