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The digital life of rainbow youth(March 2013)

In this podcast John Fenaughty reflects on how digital technologies are impacting on rainbow youth.

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The podcast titled "The Digital Life of Rainbow Youth" features an interview with John Fenaughty, conducted by Gareth Watkins, and sheds light on the impact of digital technologies on young individuals in the LGBTQ+ community. Fenaughty's interest in the topic stems from their own adolescence when they identified as gay, initiating a commitment to bettering the lives of queer youth. Their academic journey included a Master's, which found a correlation between victimization at school and suicidality among young gay and bisexual men. This research contributed to their role as a research manager at NetSafe, New Zealand's cyber safety agency, where they explored the digital challenges faced by children and youth.

Fenaughty discusses the changing digital landscape, comparing limited access in their own teen years to today's near-universal connectivity among young people. They underscore the unique advantages and risks digital life presents for LGBTQ+ youth, such as the ability to explore identity, access information, form social connections, and seek romantic partners safely online without the threat of immediate physical consequences. However, this also comes with the danger of online predation and harassment.

Fenaughty points out that while the online world provides platforms for connection and support, it's constantly evolving, making long-term, site-specific analysis less relevant compared to studying online activities. They mention popular networks among youth, such as Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter, and emphasize communication as a key online activity among adolescents.

In examining the role of digital technologies for rainbow youth specifically, Fenaughty observes that the internet serves as a critical space for those who may feel isolated due to their sexuality or gender identity. It is also noteworthy that LGBTQ+ youth may rely on the internet and smartphones to navigate their social lives more than their non-LGBTQ+ counterparts because traditional offline venues may pose greater risks of stigma and harassment.

Addressing the topic of bullying, Fenaughty emphasizes that while the internet can be a safer place for LGBTQ+ youth to develop relationships, it also opens them up to new forms of bullying and harassment. Documenting and responding effectively to electronic harassment involves seeking assistance from trusted adults and utilizing services designed to prevent and combat online abuse. Despite the challenges that technology brings, Fenaughty urges not to remove access as a punishment or solution, since it would severely hinder a young person's social development and connectivity.

Throughout the interview, Fenaughty highlights the transformative role of technology in the lives of LGBTQ+ youth. They note that while there are potential risks and challenges, technology offers unprecedented opportunities for support and connection that can be especially life-changing for those feeling marginalized or isolated. The goal, as articulated by Fenaughty, is to strike a balance, fostering a safer digital environment while empowering young people to use tech in ways that promote well-being and authentic self-expression.

This summary is created using Generative AI. Although it is based on the recording's transcription, it may contain errors or omissions. Click here to learn more about how this summary was created.

Record date:6th March 2013
Interviewer:Gareth Watkins
Location:Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand
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Archive:The master recording is archived at the Alexander Turnbull Library (OHDL-004233).