Can a 12 Year Old Use Fandom?
As kids transition into adolescence, their exposure increases to social media platforms like Twitter and fan fiction stories/art.
On the one hand, young people should be able to easily search for their preferred show without accidentally coming across inappropriate content. Conversely, depictions of sexual content involving minors cannot be justified by appealing to “culture.”
How old do I have to be?
Fandom may seem like an internet-era phenomenon, but fandom dates back centuries. Previous generations were fans of Fonzi, Pac-Man, NSYNC, and Lizzie McGuire — just like we now cling to Netflix series or video games as friends!
MacDade emphasizes that children today have greater media access than ever, giving them more ways to follow their interests. But that doesn’t mean they should ignore its downsides: she advises her students “not be passive consumers of media; be critical, aware and critical consumers.” They must consider problems within fictional universes or how creators and stars behave – “Be critical, not passive consumers!”
Kids need to know this to navigate online communities where they might see fan art or read fan fiction about their favorite character with confidence that they won’t accidentally come across content that might make them uncomfortable.
Can I talk about it?
Fans are individuals who show an intense passion for a particular interest – be it sport, pastime, show, or celebrity – and form part of an online community around it. Such communities often bear notable names; Dr. Who fans are Whovians, Taylor Swift followers are called Swifties, and Harry Potter supporters are called Potterheads.
Create and edit fan art, write fan stories, or tweet their interest about it to express themselves creatively. Connect with others from their fandom online via forums specifically created for them or form friendships within that fandom that they might consider second families.
Engaging with people about their interests, learning about critical issues such as racism or cultural appropriation, and joining groups supporting charities as part of fandom activities are all ways they can engage in conversation about topics that interest them.
Can I write about it?
Fandoms provide children and teenagers an outlet to express their creativity through writing fan fiction, designing artwork or video games, editing photos, or even setting up social media accounts to share with their community.
Fandoms provide children with an outlet to discuss topics like racism and cultural appropriation openly and critically while at the same time enjoying their favorite television shows, bands, or sports teams.
Teenagers can discuss sexuality and love online; many adolescents write sexual fanfiction. If your kid wants to post such material online, ensure it remains private or minimal; otherwise, she might attract unwanted attention or become vulnerable to bullying.
Young girls can explore how gender and age impact the characters they love; for instance, those who identify closely with Clarke from “Game of Thrones” could examine her relationships with Abby (Clarke’s grandmother) or her mother to see that mothers deserve screen time.
Can I read about it?
Reaching creators and rights-holders has never been more straightforward, enabling fans to express their feedback directly to The Powers That Be. However, this can create tensions between sanctioned creators and fandom.
As such, some fans may feel pressure to stop participating in their fandoms – an often tricky feat when something has become an integral part of one’s life. Additionally, it’s important to remember that not everyone within fandoms is mature; some toxic fandoms could harm one’s well-being.
Amy Ratcliffe’s A Kid’s Guide to Fandom gives children an essential guide on the different forms of fandoms they might encounter, with definitions for terminology and historical context and an accessible glossary at the back. It makes this book appropriate for younger readers.