Monday, August 09, 2010

The Internet generation isn't what you thought

Spiegel Online International has an interesting three page article by Manfred Dworschak about young people online which I'd suggest all those who are interested in how young people use the Net should read.  

It seems that while the current generation uses social media a good deal it doesn't regard being online as a top priority.   Meeting friends face-to-face is at least as important, if not more so - and much of what they do online is the same as they do off.   The Internet is no big deal to them: it's always been there, so they don't have any sense of excitement about it.

This is a bit of a surprise to many educators - and media pundits - who'd claimed that this generation would be the ones most savvy about the Net.   As it turns out, they're not particularly savvy at all (though of course there are exceptions).   Given a task to do on Google, many secondary students don't actually know how to use it well to find information.   They go for a scattershot approach and often miss the very things they're looking for.

A very small percentage will blog (the Internet is awash with abandoned blogs, many of which barely survive the first post), but it's not regarded as something they do.

They appear to be online a good deal, but in fact when they are online, they're often doing other things as well - like texting. 

Dworschak's article covers a lot of other ground, considers a number of studies that have been done on the subject, and questions the way we've thought about the Net and young people.    We may have to rethink the strategies!

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