There is considerable debate over the appropriate role for adults in youth online communities. Although many within the mass media argue for adult supervision of youth online, our research suggests that many young people are using the Internet to communicate productively with peers, to solve problems and learn collaboratively online. However, without studies that explicitly explore the positive aspects of youth online community involvement and the actual effects of adult intervention and oversight, only misguided and chilling stories may hit the news. In this study, we examine the 1998 Junior Summit, a well-studied, early example of a large-scale international community for youth, in order to look at the effects of moderator involvement on several measures of positive youth involvement. Children who participated in the Junior Summit were asked to identify and write white-papers about the ways in which technology could help young people. We have selected the Junior Summit as our community of focus because we have access to data that is mostly otherwise unavailable to researchers — the content of all of the community’s posts as well as information about each participant, follow-up interviews five year’s after the community’s launch, and questionnaire data about self-efficacy and wellbeing. In this study, we compare the content of three different sub-forums, with different adult moderators and different involvement levels, in order to evaluate the impact of adult moderation on the community.
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- Everything in Moderation: The Effects of Adult Moderators in Online Youth Communities
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