Online social interaction good for teens

Just released today is the report entitled, “Living and Learning With New Media.”  This report, completed by a range of researchers including Mimi Ito, danah boyd, Annalee Sexion and 12 others, offers new research regarding the habits of teens involved in online social media places such as MySpace and Facebook.  Some of the findings that I found most interesting:

  • Youth use online media to extend friendships and interests : Most youth use online networks to extend the friendships that they navigate in the familiar contexts of school, religious organizations, sports, and other local activities. Online groups enable youth to connect to peers who share specialized and niche interests of various kinds, whether that is online gaming, creative writing, video editing, or other artistic endeavors.

  • Youth engage in peer-based, self-directed learning online. In both friendship-driven and interest-driven online activity, youth create and navigate new forms of expression and rules for social behavior. By exploring new interests, tinkering, and “messing around” with new forms of media, they acquire various forms of technical and media literacy.

  • Adults should facilitate young people’s engagement with digital media. Contrary to adult perceptions, while hanging out online, youth are picking up basic social and technical skills they need to fully participate in contemporary society.

  • To stay relevant in the 21st century, education institutions need to keep pace with the rapid changes introduced by digital media. Youths’ participation in this networked world suggests new ways of thinking about the role of education. What, the authors ask, would it mean to really exploit the potential of the learning opportunities available through online resources and networks? What would it mean to reach beyond traditional education and civic institutions and enlist the help of others in young people’s learning? Rather than assuming that education is primarily about preparing for jobs and careers, they question what it would mean to think of it as a process guiding youths’ participation in public life more generally.

Mimi Ito, the lead researcher shares about the report here… “Social networking increases friendships, relationships and interactions with others”:

The New York Times writes about the report here.  “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.  “

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4 Responses to “Online social interaction good for teens”


  1. 1 Steven November 20, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    I believe teens communicating through online websites can have benefincial means, but the students should be monitored. What kind of sites are we discussing? Any educational sites, maybe a blog for students, would not have any damage towards today’s youth. Students interacting with one another from all over the world can have tremedous positive effect for our youth. People can have a better understanding for geography and cultures.

  2. 2 robdarrow November 20, 2008 at 9:07 pm

    The study indicates that young people are interacting through social networking sites such as Facebook.

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