What is a Meme?
In other fields, the term meme refers to any idea, symbol, behavior, or practice that becomes widely spread among a large population. The term was coined by the British biologist Richard Dawkins 1. Dawkins used the term to emphasize how analogous genetic and cultural evolution are. 2 In the same way that genes replicate and spread, ideas replicate and spread from one mind to another.
On the Internet, memes are generally videos, songs, images, websites, Web personalities, or inside jokes that spread rapidly. Because the Internet allows for virtually unlimited diffusion of ideas, a meme can be accessed and passed along by millions and millions of Web users. Like genes, Internet memes can spread in their original form or can "mutate" into different shapes as users modify, parody, or otherwise edit a song or video clip before passing it on. Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter help spread these memes. YouTube has also helped countless videos go viral. Some experience fame by YouTube videos gaining popularity, such as Susan Boyle and Justin Bieber. Lolcats images are another example of Internet memes.
Concerns for Parents
Many memes are harmless, funny viral videos. Simply being online will probably expose your kids to popular memes. However, there's all kinds of scummy stuff on the Web, and there may be some memes you don't want your children to see or pass on.
How Can I Keep My Child Safe?
- You can shield your kids from viewing or propagating inappropriate memes by having filtering software installed on your computer.