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Constructing Sexuality and Identity in an Online Teen Chat Room
ARTICLE

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Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology Volume 25, Number 6, ISSN 0193-3973

Abstract

In this article, we propose that adolescents' online interactions are both a literal and a metaphoric screen for representing major adolescent developmental issues, such as sexuality and identity. Because of the public nature of Internet chat rooms, they provide an open window into the expression of adolescent concerns. Our study utilizes this window to explore how issues of sexuality and identity are constructed in a teen chat room. We adapt qualitative discourse methodology to microanalyze a half-hour transcript from a monitored teen chat room, comparing it, where relevant, to a second transcript, used in a prior study [Greenfield, P.M., Subrahmanyam, K., 2003. Online discourse in a teen chat room: New codes and new modes of coherence in a visual medium. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology 24, 713-738.]. Our microanalysis reveals that participants use the online space of teen chat to air adolescent concerns about sexuality and to develop creative strategies to exchange identity information with their peers. This exchange is critical to the activity of ''pairing off'', an important teenage expression of emerging sexuality. Developmental issues from adolescents' offline lives are reconstructed online with some important differences. The virtual world of teen chat may offer a safer environment for exploring emerging sexuality than the real world. Through the verbally explicit exchange of identity information, participants are able to ''pair off'' with partners of their choice, despite the disembodied nature of chat participants.

Citation

Subrahmanyam, K., Greenfield, P.M. & Tynes, B. (2004). Constructing Sexuality and Identity in an Online Teen Chat Room. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 25(6), 651-666. Retrieved February 28, 2020 from .

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