Teens learn while ‘hanging out’ online

Teens aren’t just wasting time when they “hang out” on Facebook, MySpace and other social networking sites, concludes a study by the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Youth Project.

“It may look like kids are wasting a lot of time online, but they’re actually learning a lot of social, technical and also media literacy skills,” said Mizuko Ito, a researcher at the University of California, Irvine who lead the study.

. . . Kids denied access to new media, because their family can’t afford it or because their parents, school or library restrict their access or time on social networking sites, are likely to be short on skills that members of their generation are expected to possess, the researchers concluded.

Offline youths are “handicapped in their efforts to participate in common culture and sociability,” the study reads.

I’d bet social networking skills can be learned quickly if young people feel the need.

I was somewhat out of the common culture as a kid because I watched so little TV — and no Westerns. I read books. I’m now catching up by watching reruns and DVDs of Gunsmoke and Maverick. (My husband likes old Westerns.) There’s a great Maverick episode, “Gun-Shy,” that parodies Gunsmoke.

About Joanne


  1. Was there a control group?

  2. Joanne….

    Your old time Western TV comments are so funny. You may want to check out “Have Gun, Will Travel.” I often think of that show when Margaret Spellings hits the road to visit state departments of education to discuss their NCLB progress.

  3. For those interested, here is the MacArthur Foundation’s report announcement. The only thing I don’t buy, from persona experience, is that many kids are learning in-depth technical skills from their time on the internet. Most take a get-it-done-quick approach that involves things like dumping a bunch of pre-configured CSS into a field on a MySpace profile to modify it, which isn’t a technical skill at all. Same thing with YouTube videos. Most have no editing or effects, and go just from camera to hard drive to YouTube, which again requires very little technical skill.

    Does this mean that there are not the geeks who will latch on to a topic and explore it deeply? Of course not. They have existed for far longer than computing and they’ll continue to exist. I just think that the report is overselling the idea that kids are learning technical skills.

  4. World wide web contributed a lot of information that feeding the mind of the user, it provides many website where everyone can get unlimited resources and study the things that they wanted to know.