No More Worries Parents, The Internet Is Good For Teens
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 a social-networking site 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.”
The study, conducted from 2005 to last summer, describes new-media usage but does not measure its effects.
“It certainly rings true that new media are inextricably woven into young people’s lives,” said Vicki Rideout, vice-president of the Kaiser Family Foundation and director of its program for the study of media and health. “Ethnographic studies like this are good at describing how young people fit social media into their lives. What they can’t do is document effects. This highlights the need for larger, nationally representative studies.”
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. The study, part of a $50 million project on digital and media learning, used several teams of researchers to interview more than 800 young people and their parents and to observe teenagers online for more than 5,000 hours.