Posted November 25, 2008 12:18 am by with 7 comments

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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.

  • 16 hours online a day, I never felt spending my time. Why ? because, just like you said being social make my life more interesting. Discuss things I never know before and else.

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  • Hi Janet … you make some good points and no doubt there are positives, but there is a difference between online social skills and face to face social skills. I have noticed that some people are extremely expressive, sociable and friendly online but not the same when they physically interacting with someone. We shouldn’t confuse these two and give equal importance to develop both. Hence time spent offline and online should be balanced atleast in the formative years. Thanks

  • This is an interesting take on the subject and quite logical. I would rate the second part, that is, improving technical skills as the more important.

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  • For some reason people dont realize that the kids that chat online with each other also see each other on a weekly or daily basis.

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  • I’ve always been curious as to what kind of role the heavy usage of technology would play in teens and young adults. The concern has always been that these kids would have no social skills, but apparently, I’m wrong…which pleases me.

  • To me, it really matters only if teenagers benefit alot rather than just plainly benefit.

    With all the social media exposures, it will be difficult to find teenagers hardly hanging out online. I’m pretty sure parents aren’t complaining because at least their kids are safe and sound at home, although spending lots of time online.

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  • I spend online about 8-10 hours daily. There was no waste minute for me. Internet is one of the powerful keys to our social life. Here you are free to know everything you are interested or frustrated in. It opens its doors for you to get more knowledge and self-improvement.