Thursday, November 20, 2008

Teens and Social Networking

Teenagers Internet Socializing Not a Bad Thing:

Good news for worried parents: All those hours their teenagers spend socializing on the Internet are not a bad thing, according to a new study by the MacArthur Foundation.

“It may look as though kids are wasting a lot of time hanging out with new media, whether it’s on MySpace or sending instant messages,” said Mizuko Ito, lead researcher on the study, “Living and Learning With New Media.” “But their participation is giving them the technological skills and literacy they need to succeed in the contemporary world. They’re learning how to get along with others, how to manage a public identity, how to create a home page.”
While my readership over 40 collectively gasps, the question then becomes: so what about the internet as this bastion of sexual predators who prey on kids and teenagers, or who, conversely, turn teens into monsters?

Ms. Ito, a research scientist in the department of informatics at the University of California, Irvine, said that some parental concern about the dangers of Internet socializing might result from a misperception.

“Those concerns about predators and stranger danger have been overblown,” she said. “There’s been some confusion about what kids are actually doing online. Mostly, they’re socializing with their friends, people they’ve met at school or camp or sports.”
What the study calls “geeking out” is the most intense Internet use, in which young people delve deeply into a particular area of interest, often through a connection to an online interest group.

For example, a Brooklyn teenager did a Google image search to look at a video card and find out where in a computer such cards are, then installed his own.
LOL. Poor kid.

Of course, there are real dangers in cyberspace, and kids can often "geek out" on controversial topics such as drug use, sites celebrating eating disorders, or committing suicide. Adult supervision, in that sense, is still a must.

But my guess is teens online may have more to fear from helicopter parents and the strange activities they engage in, than they do anything else. As I've written previously, when adults go online impersonating their kids, we've crossed into the Twilight Zone of weirdness (and in the case linked above, alleged criminal activity).

No comments: