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Teen fan of fanfic - help!

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message 1: by Dan (new)

Dan C | 2 comments Hi. I am the Dad of a (very nearly) 13 year old daughter who has always been a lover of reading. Over the last couple of years she has also got very into anime, manga and fanfic (mostly Percy Jackson focussed).

More recently she has started putting pen-to-paper and has written a few short fanfic stories of her own. However, she has been doing this via Wattpad, and while I absolutely don't want to discourage her from writing, I've had to impose a Wattpad ban, since - perhaps unsurprisingly - a lot of the stuff published there is thematically inappropriate (and without context) for someone her age. I've discussed this with her, and am reasonably confident she understands mine (and her Mum's) position.

Given that we want to encourage her writing, does anyone know of any YA-appropriate alternatives to Wattpad? We really don't want her to be exposed to full-on porn/BDSM/self-harm/suicide stories, or to have to deal (yet) with the worries that naturally stem from contact with writers who clearly have issues she is unable to understand or help with.

Any advice or suggestions gratefully received

Dan (UK)


message 2: by Ariel (new)

Ariel Stirling | 80 comments My daughter says ArchiveOfOurOwn has a rating system that limits access to writing with mature material. She's into the same sorts of things, so I figured she's the expert. It might be worth checking out, but I don't know if it's quite what you're looking for.


message 3: by Ariel (new)

Ariel Stirling | 80 comments My daughter says ArchiveOfOurOwn has a rating system that limits access to writing with mature material. She's into the same sorts of things, so I figured she's the expert. It might be worth checking out, but I don't know if it's quite what you're looking for.


message 4: by Valyssia (new)

Valyssia Leigh | 3 comments I've done a fair bit of playing in the world of fan-fiction (both as a writer and a consumer) and I don't believe there's a good answer to your needs short of becoming involved yourself and monitoring what your daughter is reading. Even sites like Fanfiction (dot) Net that claim to restrict the material their members post do a pretty lousy job of policing. Unless a piece of fan-fiction contains certain obvious keywords, they won't catch it and remove it unless a member complains. And while AO3 (Archive of Our Own) does have filters allowing it's members to search for specific content by rating and other factors, I'm unaware of any features that allow a parent to limit what a minor views to a specific set of criteria.

Really, the most damning thing about this is that the rating a piece of fan-fiction gets is set by its author. I've seen fan-works that were absolutely riddled with expletives that the author marked as being appropriate for teens. Sexual content, violence, abuse, self harm and the like might be carefully noted by one author and go entirely unremarked by another. It really depends on how conscientious the person is. So, I guess my only advice for you is 'take care.'


message 5: by Dan (new)

Dan C | 2 comments Thanks, both, for your comments. I absolutely take the point that monitoring is best way to manage this, and to a greater or lesser extent that position is what's led me to the current situation re Wattpad.

I feel that I'm walking a tightrope, though, and one on which I'm poorly equipped to balance. That being said, at one level I totally see that this is an experience felt by parents (and Dads of daughters, especially) since forever. What feels different now, though, is the 'wolf in sheep's clothing' aspect of content/material that gets billed as 'fanfiction'.

I assume most routes into consuming this type of writing are driven by a desire for continuing narratives about beloved characters (Potter, 1D* et al...), not masturbatory inspiration or an exploration of mental-health concerns. Through the way these realms are seemingly routinely smashed together in fanfic, though, I have very quickly seen my daughter become exposed to facets of human sexuality**, depression and suicide that she frankly doesn't need to have to deal with right now, and very likely would not have encountered via other media.

And it feels very different from the old 'porn mag under the mattress' of yesteryear.

Published porn generally doesn't hide what it is, and it is absolutely the case that it's easier to control access. We accept that our kids will encounter it, but it's identifiable and easy to differentiate from most 'normal' societal and cultural communication. It's also narrative-free, for the most part, and doesn't have an agenda. Fanfic, from what I can see, is very often absolutely about the writers framing their own issues, fears and concerns against only the flimsiest backdrop of character names and locations.

It really troubles me that in so doing, writers can very clearly transmit upsetting ideas into vulnerable and impressionable minds, usually without context, editorial oversight or any serious consideration of how effective the written word can be over and above the still, or even moving, image. And all to a, relatively, mass audience who just wanted more adventures.

I'm confident (based on nothing, though, if I'm honest) that most writers, especially with regard to fanfic with a mental-health angle, don't intentionally set out to inspire similar thoughts in their readers. Nor am I saying that our children will fall-prey to dark thoughts as an inevitable consequence. I just feel uncomfortable that in the face of an inability to mediate access to a point I'm comfortable with, I've had to 'ban'.

It feels like it used to be the case that the practicalities of publishing and distributing 'challenging' ideas would still leave time for a decent-length childhood (at least in our privileged Western Democracies). Co-opting and weaponising established and beloved characters with sexual and suicidal warheads, seems to create a very effective transmission vector for the foreshortening of those - hopefully - untroubled years.

Teens should absolutely have spaces where these thoughts, ideas and feelings can be expressed and explored. I strongly feel, though, that these spaces need to be moderated, and to whatever extent is possible, kept free of those who do seek to do harm.

Hmmm... that went on longer than I'd planned. Useful for me to articulate my thoughts though!

By all means comment.

Dan

*as an aside, there is presumably a special circle of Hell reserved for Harry Styles fanfic. How celebs deal with that stuff is probably worthy of study in its own right.

** for the elimination of doubt, I'm talking about hardcore sex and BDSM, NOT themes of gay relationships; I'm not remotely concerned about that. That's normal life.


message 6: by Ariel (new)

Ariel Stirling | 80 comments I can't help but wonder if I'm the only parent who looks at the teen years as an opportunity for my daughter to learn about things outside her comfort zone and explore new ideas about what "normal" is, while making her own decisions about what she is and isn't comfortable with? No criticism here of parenting styles, most parents do still monitor everything their 13 year olds do, most would be critical of my more relaxed style. But I am curious about it.
For comparison, my daughter found fanfic about 4 years ago at age 13 too. I asked what she was reading, she told me, I asked if she was comfortable reading about those things, she said not really. So I told her I was fine with her reading whatever she was comfortable with, but to remember to treat fan fiction as what it is: fiction, not necessarily well-researched. And if she had any questions or thoughts on the subjects she came across I would happily answer her questions. About that time I also gave her access to my Kindle library and we agreed that I would make a Rated R collection so she wouldn't be surprised by any unexpected sex scenes. She still had access to them, but she could make the informed decision on whether or not she was ready to read about those things. At 17 I'm pretty sure she has hit the Rated R collection, she's asked me over the years about all sorts of topics that she she was curious about, from teen suicide to BDSM. She has been the person in control and has learned where her limits are without intervention on my part... And surprisingly, she still avoids as much graphic sex/violence as she can. I think teens think about and are curious about these things no matter what, and it's up to parents to either keep control of their exposure or let teens have control but offer them guidance. My kid has always been incredibly stubborn and "trying", and I learned early on that if I told her no straight out she would defy me at every opportunity, but if I gave her permission to choose and logic to back up my own choice, she'd do what was best on her own.
Anyway, the point of this is really that maybe since the fanfic doesn't self-police and is tricky to monitor (the Internet is everywhere!), it might be helpful to discuss with your daughter where her limits are and where yours are, and why! Maybe you two can work out a good compromise that allows her to read the things she enjoys and maintain some self-efficacy over what not to read.


message 7: by Ariel (new)

Ariel Stirling | 80 comments I can't help but wonder if I'm the only parent who looks at the teen years as an opportunity for my daughter to learn about things outside her comfort zone and explore new ideas about what "normal" is, while making her own decisions about what she is and isn't comfortable with? No criticism here of parenting styles, most parents do still monitor everything their 13 year olds do, most would be critical of my more relaxed style. But I am curious about it.
For comparison, my daughter found fanfic about 4 years ago at age 13 too. I asked what she was reading, she told me, I asked if she was comfortable reading about those things, she said not really. So I told her I was fine with her reading whatever she was comfortable with, but to remember to treat fan fiction as what it is: fiction, not necessarily well-researched. And if she had any questions or thoughts on the subjects she came across I would happily answer her questions. About that time I also gave her access to my Kindle library and we agreed that I would make a Rated R collection so she wouldn't be surprised by any unexpected sex scenes. She still had access to them, but she could make the informed decision on whether or not she was ready to read about those things. At 17 I'm pretty sure she has hit the Rated R collection, she's asked me over the years about all sorts of topics that she she was curious about, from teen suicide to BDSM. She has been the person in control and has learned where her limits are without intervention on my part... And surprisingly, she still avoids as much graphic sex/violence as she can. I think teens think about and are curious about these things no matter what, and it's up to parents to either keep control of their exposure or let teens have control but offer them guidance. My kid has always been incredibly stubborn and "trying", and I learned early on that if I told her no straight out she would defy me at every opportunity, but if I gave her permission to choose and logic to back up my own choice, she'd do what was best on her own.
Anyway, the point of this is really that maybe since the fanfic doesn't self-police and is tricky to monitor (the Internet is everywhere!), it might be helpful to discuss with your daughter where her limits are and where yours are, and why! Maybe you two can work out a good compromise that allows her to read the things she enjoys and maintain some self-efficacy over what not to read.


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