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Far from creating an individualistic and self-centered generation that shuns social interaction or community involvement, as many parents and teachers fear, chat rooms and message boards are fostering a new public spirit among young people and helping them to develop their personalities and make friends, scientists say.Two studies of online communities suggest that the Internet has replaced shopping centers and youth clubs as the place where young people form their identities and meet peers.wiki How's mission is to help people learn, and we really hope this article helped you.Now you are helping others, just by visiting wiki How.Young people who use them are getting just as much practice in leadership and social skills and community involvement as they did before the Internet.Involvement might not take place in the school gymnasium or around the campfire, but instead in online communities in the glow of computer screens." A second study by Danah Boyd, also of Northwestern, examined the way that young people use My Space.com, which was recently bought by News Corporation, parent company of The Times and of Justine Cassell, professor of communication studies at Northwestern University, who presented research at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in St.

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"There is a perception that young people are spending all their time doing something damaging here, and my research suggests that that is not the case," she said.

"We have to ask ourselves whether we are continuing to provide the kind of space that young people need to develop social skills," Cassell added.

Few studies, however, have investigated the effects on young people of the more interactive forms of information technology such as online communities and chat rooms.

Professor Cassell's work has focused on Junior Summit, a closed online community of more than 3,000 10 to 16-year-olds.