between the (en)chant(ment) and the silence of mermaids: on children’s (no)place in (cyber)culture

rita ribes pereira


The goal of this paper is to discuss the relations between childhood and a contemporary world that has added a virtual dimension to culture. I argue that the social space that children occupy in the cyberculture has become a contradictory one: on one hand we see them as possessing a natural inborne expertise in this new dimension of the lifeworld; on the other, we see them as unprotected and fragile beings. Research into this contradiction seeks to identify the psychological, cultural, and social changes at play, and involves a methodological and theoretical construct in constant transformation. There is research on children´s relations with the internet that revolves around their daily routine and actual use, which is typically produced in academic and bureaucratic settings. There is also research to be done on the market´s discursive production in the creation of sites targeted specifically to children. A third approach to understanding the phenomenon of the child in cyberculture is a philosophical and a metaphorical one. Through invoking Franz Kafka’s reading of Homer’s account of Ulysses’ encounter with the mermaid Sirens, we can identify discursive tendencies that emerge from the production of knowledge about childhood and cyberculture, and deliberate on the ethical and methodological challenges that face childhood researchers.


Infância e cibercultura; criança e internet; pesquisa com crianças


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childhood & philosophy Creative Commons License
e-issn 1984-5987 | p-issn 2525-5061