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Parents need to be acquainted with the fan fiction world


Question: My daughter and a number of her just-newly teenage friends have become hooked on reading and writing fan fiction. I am glad that she is doing all this reading and writing. Yet, I wonder if this is truly an appropriate online activity? – Wondering

Answer: Many readers might not even know what fan fiction (also known as “fan fic”) is. Fan fiction is an original story that people write that borrows characters, plot elements and settings from other works (movies, TV shows, novels, etc.). It is extremely popular, especially with teenage girls.

There are many good points to fan fiction, as it definitely encourages reading and writing. It also can encourage children to think more deeply about the construction of a story and its characters. A few fan-fiction writers have even become published in e-books.

On the other hand, fan-fiction works vary immensely in their appropriateness for children to read. Some have racy language and graphic descriptions of sex, drugs or violence. Plus, others will be poorly written with a great number of spelling and grammatical errors. And comments about individual stories from followers could be cruel and actually become cyberbullying.

Since your daughter has entered the fan-fiction world, you will need to become acquainted with it. Find out what platforms your daughter is using. Each one will have its own rules and privacy settings. Find out with whom she is sharing her work. Starting out with a small audience and stricter privacy settings is best. You will definitely need to talk with her about writing and sharing sexy stuff, as she could draw the wrong type of readers and even damage her reputation with friends.

After learning about the apps and sites that your daughter is using, you may decide that she can or can’t read and write fan fiction. If you approve, do express your concerns and set up some ground rules.

On commonsensemedia.org, you can find descriptions of some apps and sites for fan fiction. This can be helpful for learning about the content of a range of fan-fiction content.

Besides being teachers, Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts have co-authored more than 100 books. If you have a question you’d like them to address, send it to dearteacher@dearteacher.com.

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