Hanging Out Online IS Good For Teens

By: Janet Meiners - November 25, 2008

I feel vindicated. Even though I’m not a teenager – a recent study has encouraging findings. Most parents of teens who spend time online think they are wasting time. They probably discourage it. But hold on, it might not be so bad.

The study, supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, looked at “how digital media is changing how young people learn, play, socialize, and participate in civic life.”

If you watch the news you’d think teenagers are victims online – getting bullied or solicited by sex offenders. I get mad when the only thing that’s reported is how dangerous the Internet is. So it’s affirming to see that there are positive effects too.

What are teenagers getting from all of that time spent online? They are building valuable social and technical skills. After observing 800 teenagers one-on-one and in focus groups the researchers concluded: “…we found that spending time online is essential for young people to pick up the social and technical skills they need to be competent citizens in the digital age.”

They found that teens go online for two reasons – to interact with their friends or learn about things they’re interested in. The great thing is that you can find groups of people and information about almost any subject.

I decided I’m going to use this information to justify the time I spend online even though I’m not a teenager. Sure you could get carried away. But when I interact with people on Twitter it makes my life more interesting. We discuss things that many in my regular life either don’t care about or don’t get.

There’s a lot more from the study. I hope next they’ll do one on how hanging out Online is good for your job! Either way, I think you should read the whole article: Why Teens Socially Benefit from Time Spent Online.


Janet Meiners

About the Author

Janet MeinersJanet Meiners always wanted to be a reporter but prefers the immediacy of blogging. Known as Newspapergrl, she has freelanced for newspapers, City Search, and business magazines. She reports on internet marketing and online trends.

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