Girls just wanna have fun: From Barbie to grrl power
Maxine Fisher, Hofstra University, United States
Hofstra University . Awarded
This study describes the experience of engaging 22 African-American 12–13 year old girls in a summer computer camp followed by monthly meetings September through April situated in a major university.
The purpose of the study was to describe these girls' affinities for specific grrl websites, those Internet sites that target teen girls as their audience. Since there currently exists no research describing the online experiences of African American girls from low-income environments, grounded theory was used to develop a racialized theory by adding data regarding female behavior and the Internet.
Qualitative data included electronic bulletin boards, journal entries, personal webpages, online surveys, fieldnotes, video and audio tape recordings, interviews, face-to face focus groups and online focus groups. Selective axial coding was used with the data gleaned from the girls' website reviews, discussion board entries, journal entries, and interview transcripts.
Study findings reveal that attitudes and interests in the use of computers and the Internet are consistent with the data on middle class White girls. This study supports previous findings that the appeal of the Internet for young girls is as a communication and productivity tool. Participants recommended favorite grrl websites for others to visit, shared their thoughts online via their journal entries, created products, and posted original poems on websites to share with other girls.
Participants described the perfect web site for girls as one having bright colors, music reviews, lyrics and audio clips about songs of their favorite rap and hip hop artists, horoscopes, chat rooms, interactive games that are challenging and offer choices, contemporary fashion trends, interactive design activities where a product can be saved and/or printed out, advice on how to deal with peer pressure and bullying, points for playing games or entering contests that can be redeemed for prizes, message boards with a question and answer forum, and journals.
This study informs practice for educators, software developers, and web designers who seek to attract African American 'tween girls to use computers and the Internet. This study also describes how connectedness and maintaining identity were fostered in a technology-oriented setting.
Fisher, M. Girls just wanna have fun: From Barbie to grrl power. Ph.D. thesis, Hofstra University.
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