I am developing an Internet safety course for a local school division and spent some time yesterday poking around the various sites that offer safety content. On one site, Web Wise Kids
, they ask teens if they know what a friend is and then they write, "Friends are people we know in real life, not people we know only online. You don’t tell personal things to just anyone at school or on the street. Don’t tell personal things to just anyone online either."
I'm interested in what this group thinks about that statement. I guess I understand their point, but it makes it seem like being online is not part of my real life, which it most certainly is. (Even SL is part of my RL.) And, while I have met some of you ftf, there are others who I may never meet that way. So, we can never be friends?
And, while the advice to not spill your guts to just anyone is certainly important, I can have discussions about lots of things--music, books, gardening--with people both offline and online without revealing my secret thoughts. Finally, I remembered that when I was in middle school, I had a pen pal from Korea. We exchanged letters for many years until he entered the military. I considered him my friend even though I never met him in "real life." According to this statement, he wasn't my friend.