Friday, November 21, 2008


Computer nerds unite! An extensive study by UC Irvine researcher Dr. Mizuko Ito found that teens using the Internet are not only excelling in meeting the requirements of new technology, but are improving their social and networking skills as well. And all those parents that thought little Timmy needed monitoring are just wrong, wrong, wrong.

The three-year study interviewed over 800 youth and their parents and monitored over 5000 hours of on-line social networking communities. What Dr. Ito and her team discovered was that today's youth are facing a completely different type of socialization than their parents, where the virtual world of technology can enhance "self-directed" learning - i.e., youth can choose what they want to learn about, in an inf0rmal, tailored manner. By pursuing their own interests, youth can find social networks with like interests that serve as tutors, helping to enhance the learning experience and empower the user. "Ito and her team of researchers found that participation in the digital age means more than being able to access serious online information and culture. Youth using new media often learn from their peers, and notions of expertise and authority are being redefined."

The prevalent thought of parents today is that spending too much time on the computer will create social isolation have been proven false. Come to find out that there are two distinct "types" of internet use: friendship-driven and interest-driven. In fact, the study goes on to state that as opposed to youth learning from one source (school teacher in a static setting), the advent of the internet as a learning tool is allowing youth to branch out far beyond their geographical location, literally increasing their social circle on a global scale.

So Mom, Dad - next time you think your kid(s) are just "wasting their time" surfing the 'net - don't be alarmed, whether they know it or not, they are really enhancing their technical and social skills to fit tomorrow's needs. But don't tell them that - it wouldn't be cool.


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