Skip to main content

Teen Internet use. Is it all negative? The benefits of teen online socializing

teen_bloggers.jpg

AP: Team Cool Kids blog about 2010 winters

Parents worry about the negative impact of Internet use on teens reported by studies, including:

* increased loneliness and depression and a decline in social involvement (Kraut et al. 1998a, b).

* displacement of time otherwise spent in social activities and substituting strong social ties for weaker ones (Kraut et al. 1998a, b)

* incidences of cyber-bullying (Juvonen and Gross 2008)

* decreased communication with family members and friends

* increased social isolation and psychological distress

* enhanced likelihood of risky behaviors and Internet addiction

* heightened vulnerabilities to sexual predators.

Are there positive benefits of Internet usage?

A study “Living and Learning With New Media” pointed out the benefits that include:

* provides technological skills and literacy to succeed in the contemporary world.

* increases their ability to get along with others

* learns how to manage a public identity.

Positive social networking and community building through the Internet

Parents limit tweeting, texting and online blogging consuming so much of their teen’s time, just as parents in past generations limited how long a teen tied up the family phone line. The only difference? Teens today talk to each other anytime and anywhere.

Other studies and an Ohio State University study of 100 teen bloggers from around the United States found other positive outcomes. 

What do these studies reveal about the positive aspects of the Internet?

Provides creative expression through poetry, lyrics and song.

Encourages identity exploration, self-expression and overall youth development. (Schmitt et al. 2008; Subrahmanyam et al. 2008).

Offers more more developmental promise than other forms of media, such as television, because they allow for active participation.

Decreases social anxiety and loneliness by creating an environment where adolescents can express their true selves and gain acceptance in positive, anonymous ways (Gross et al. 2002; Maczewski 2002; McKenna and Bargh 2000).

Can improve of?ine relationships (Valkenburg and Peter 2009).

Extraverts may bene?t through a possible ‘‘rich get richer’’ phenomenon (Kraut et al. 2002, p. 58). That is, those that are already connected and comfortable with their peers may use the Internet for additional opportunities to interact and build relationships with youth that they may not have met otherwise (Gross et al. 2002; Kraut et al. 2002; Peter et al. 2005; Rheingold)

For introverted youth, online relationships may compensate for poorly developed social skills (Peter et al. 2005, p. 429)

 48% of teens surveyed reported that the Internet improves their relationships with friends and 32% reported that the Internet helps them make new friends (Lenhart et al. (2001).

MySpace, Friendster, and Facebook provide sidebars with pro?les reporting basic personal information, interests, and one’s occupation. These social networking sites serve as important community forums where youth create and maintain friendships, interact with others with similar interests, and plan for their daily activities with peers in their local community (Lenhart et al. 2007; Nardi et al. 2004).

Using a blog or other social networking parallels the traditional means of social interactions among youth. They primarily use their online communications to foster and sustain relationships with others. The fact is: the Internet is not going away. It’s here to stay. As parents, we need to do our best to teach our children safety Internet skills and how to treat ourselves and others with respect through the various the ways we communicate.

For more information:

Colorado Springs Internet Providers

PCI Broadband

5770 Flintridge Dr. Suite 100

Colorado Springs, CO 80918

http://www.pcisys.net/

Click here to see a list of other Internet providers

Qwest’s Internet safety features

Comcast’s parental controls

Detailed results from the Ohio State University study regarding teens and blogging. The list below identifies the percentages of topics addressed by teen bloggers.

Unstructured activities

Hanging out with friends 26.9

Watching television 45.4

Playing an instrument for fun 9.2

Computer/internet use not for games 29.2

Plays video games 65.4

Read a book for pleasure 10.8

Going to the movies 26.9

Going to concerts 6.9

Completing household chores 20.0

Structured activities

Participation in school-sponsored activities 34.6

Participation in an organized sports team, playing a sport, or exercising 31.5

Going to lessons (music, dance, martial arts, etc.) 37.6

Participation in faith-based activities 22.3

Participation in hobbies 6.2

Doing homework or participating in tutoring/homework assistance programs 40.0

Other

Mentions optimism about future 4.6

Mentions plans for attending college 16.9

Describes positive interactions with parents 19.2

Have peers to con?de in 15.4

Adolescent Weblog Use 71

Risk factor and problem behavior content

Feeling Lonely, not fitting in, or that others do not like them 21.5

Discouraged 10.8

Worried a lot 7.7

Blue, depressed, worthless, or hopeless 30.0

Bored, in general 56.2

Angry 27.7

Has had suicidal thoughts/ideation, attempted suicide 3.8

Mentions use of drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes 5.8

Pregnancy or parenthood issues 0

Having oral, anal, or vaginal sex 1.1

Going to bars and clubs 3.1

Involvement in gang activity 0

Describes parent-related issues

Parents being angry with them 15.0

Parents being too strict 4.6

Parents disciplining them 4.6

History of parent substance abuse or illness 1.5

Being bored by school/school not enjoyable 29.2

Not doing homework or being motivated to do homework 16.2

Problems with teachers 11.2

Behavioral issues at school (being sent to the principal, being disruptive in class) 7.7

Worries about academic failure 10.8

 

Comments

  • Margie 4 years ago

    Thank you. I've been thinking about this a lot lately!