Digital backyard is a term used to describe the transition of exploratory youth culture from the analog backyard space to the digital space. This is a tendency brought on by the fact that many families live in smaller spaces with less backyard space, spread out by geographic distance from friend groups. Playing together online is a distributed social network is a new form of backyard play.
In a digital, or online backyard, children explore the extents and limits and offerings of a digital space vs. the analog space during youth and into adolescence. During this time, youth experiment and test existent structures of the space and others in the space, recreating and defining new identities and second selves, and making virtual friends. Participants of these spaces perform the same childhood actions of play on a different connected network. Instead of racing to the top of a tree or to the edge of a field, they may engage others on the other side of the world to do the same in a virtual environment. Just as in the real world, children will go above and beyond to connect in new ways or use existent structures for humorous games, pranks and challenges. In pushing these limits, they gain a new understanding of the digital environment that will become their future reality for interactions as an adult.
- Boellstorff, Tom. Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human. Princeton University Press. 2008.