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Teenagers and the Internet

If we want to know what’s coming over the next ten years we just have to start paying more attention to how teens are behaving in the Internet world. I love to read the Pew Internet and American Life Project report and their latest is a doozy.
Teens are huge users of the web. Duh! While it shouldn’t need to be stated, it’s important to remember that when we are developing our 5 and 10 year plans and visions:
1. All the high school age users of our libraries are teens.
2. Within five years they will be just about all of our undergraduate student users.
3. In 10-15 years they will be the majority of the parents of the kids in our school programs.
If you’re going to focus on someone to influence and have a positive view of libraries, just about every one of them is already born already. If you want to design services and resources that align well with their needs and abilities, they’re just not that hard to find. I live with two of these aliens myself. They’re pretty neat. When I hear colleagues overtly and overly criticize this demographic I worry they’ve closed their minds to understanding them. And the book “Everythig Bad is Good for You” presents the case that they’re smarter than us older folk. Scary emerging generation gap here.
Anyway, the latest Pew report “The Internet at School” is available as a sumary and PDF here.
The Pew noted that the Internet is an important (maybe critical) element in the overall educational experience of many teenagers. The widespread agreement among teens and their parents that the Internet can be a useful tool for school is driving school libraries and teachers to start building the blended learning environment (classroom and online) that supports their needs. Think about this:
1. 87% of all youth between the ages of 12 and 17 use the Internet.
That translates into about 21 million people in the U.S.
2. Of those 21 million online teens, 78% (or about 16 million students) say they use the Internet at school.
3. This means that 68% of all teenagers have used the Internet at school.
4 This represents growth of roughly 45% over the past four years from about 11 million teens who used the Internet in schools in late 2000 (from the 2000 Pew survey).
5. 18% of teens who use the Internet from multiple locations list school as the location where they go online most often.
6. 37% of teens say they believe that “too many” of their peers are using the Internet to cheat.
7. Large numbers of teens and adults have used the web to search for information about colleges and universities. So another of the things that changed when the Internet changed everything is the dynamic of educational choices.
8. Of the other locations that teens use to go online were: friend’s houses (75%), public libraries (61%) and community centers (11%). Good news since they can often get to library resources from outside the library – if we make them aware.
9. And the data on instant messaging in ths study is illuminating.
Another short paper worth a read.
Stephen

Posted on: August 15, 2005, 6:23 pm Category: Uncategorized