Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Net Use Generation Gap

Podcast Version

A few weeks ago I came across an interesting set of survey results from the PEW American Internet Project. They had compiled results from a variety of different surveys to paint a picture of daily internet activities of adults.

I thought is would be interesting to see the difference between adult use and teen use. The PEW report showed the results from fifty nine internet activities. I chose fifty of them and created an online survey for teens to take.

Even though the survey sample is currently small (c. 200), not scientifically accurate, or anywhere as controlled as the PEW surveys, the results are dramatic enough to show significant trend.

While there are no real surprises, there are a few results that do raise an eyebrow and the graphic representation of the the results paints a dramatic picture of the generation gap in internet use.

Interestingly, the PEW survey reported that 66% of adults reported using the internet daily and my survey indicated about 76% of students use it daily. However, teens participated in twice the number of activities as the adults.

Under obvious results we found that adults searched for political information and financial information way more than teens and teens listened to music, watched videos, and played games way more than adults.

The results also showed that teens are more technically active through downloads, creation of online content and other activities.

Of course social networking what a mainstay of teen life with forty-two percent visiting regularly, as opposed to three percent of the adults.

What was interesting and puzzling at first glance was that adults used email twice as much as the teen, but the fact that teens used IM and text messages five times more than adults and blog more than ten times more seemed to explain that figure.

One other obvious result was chatroom participation. It was obvious that teens visited chatrooms more, but the percentage was somewhat lower than I would have expected. Reports I have read in the past showed about 50-60% of teens age 9-18 frequented chatrooms. In this survey the figure was only nineteen percent. This is particularly interesting because so far I have given the survey only to 7th and 8th grader and chatroom use drops off in high school. This seems to indicate that IM and text messaging is surplanting chat.

(The picture below show the survey results at a glance.)

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the ability to communicate effeciently and effectively as a responsible netizen is a critical area of education and this is exactly where the WiredSafety online learning activities place their focus.

The URL will be officially published on June 21 at the First Annual Community and Social Networking Summit Westchester, NY, but in my next blog, I'll be pointing you to the URL.

You may not be able to get underway this school year, but you will have plenty of lead time to steal between trips to the beach or the park to get yourself up to speed so you can make your students Cyber Safe and Information Literate in 2006-2007.

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