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Dev Psychol. 2007 Nov;43(6):1312-20.

Role taking in online "classrooms": what adolescents are learning about race and ethnicity.

Author information

  • Department of Educational Psychology and the African American Studies Program, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL 61820, USA. tynes@uiuc.edu


Adolescents recruited from chat rooms were interviewed via instant messaging about their interracial and interethnic experiences online. The types of messages participants sent and received about race on the Internet were identified using thematic analysis. Of particular interest within these online exchanges was what and how participants learned about racial issues. Data revealed that racialized role taking--the adoption and enactment of race-related identities--was a primary means of learning about race in the online settings adolescents visited. Participants assumed these identities in 6 capacities: as sympathizers, advocates, discussants, witnesses, targets, and friends. In doing so, they learned a wide range of information from their interracial and interethnic interlocutors, including various cultural practices and belief systems, the consequences of racial prejudice, and the ways in which racial oppression affects the lives of people of color. Participants were also exposed to negative stereotypes and racial prejudice against their own and other ethnic groups online. Findings underscore the need to counter online racial prejudice and promote the more positive aspects of what adolescents learn about race and ethnicity online.

(c) 2007 APA.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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