Time Spent Online Important for Teen Development

Had a hard time figuring out which thread to put this in…


America’s youth are developing important social and technical skills online, often in ways adults do not understand or value, a new report from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation finds.

Released as part of the foundation’s $50 million digital media and learning initiative, the report found that while adults often view online activity as risky or an unproductive distraction, youth understand the social value of online activity and are generally highly motivated to participate. By participating online, young people are learning basic social and technical skills that they need to fully participate in modern society and are able to connect with individuals in different locations and of different ages who share their interests, making it possible to pursue interests that might not be popular with or valued by their local peer groups.

The report also found that online media, messages, and profiles that young people post can travel beyond expected audiences and are often difficult to eradicate after the fact. The rapid pace of change online may also present challenges for both adults and young people as they struggle to keep up with technology and related developments.

“This study creates a baseline for our understanding of how young people are participating with digital media and what that means for their learning,” said Connie Yowell, director of education at the MacArthur Foundation. “It concludes that learning today is becoming increasingly peer-based and networked, and this is important to consider as we begin to re-imagine education in the twenty-first century.”