It seems fairly common recently for parents to yell at their teenagers for spending possibly too much time on the Internet or computers in general. I know I’ve heard it enough, directed both at myself when I was in high school and to others. Some parents like to complain that teenagers aren’t spending their time well on the Internet when they could be reading or playing in traffic. I’ve never believed the arguments against the Internet for teenagers, and now there’s actually a study that proves it for me.
The MacArthur Foundation sponsored a study to find how the Internet affects teenagers. Turns out the result were quite positive. According to the study, teenagers who spent time online were learning valuable skills both with and without computers. Part of the study monitored a group of anime fans that would converse with one another through the Internet. Turns out they started learning a bit of Japanese, coding, and video production, which isn’t all that surprising to me (I have even started learning a bit of Japanese from watching a good deal of anime).
The teenagers monitored also showed improvements in creativity whether through computer games, video editing or writing presumably as they interacted with and created their own content. Even through using MySpace and Facebook they were able to learn how to do things with the Internet that used to be skills that only a few people had. Sure, it seems simple enough, but its doubtful that most of their parents are able to do the same.
The full study is hailed as the “most extensive U.S. study on teens and their use of digital media,” and the PDF of findings is an interesting read. The final report is indeed quite extensive and something that should probably only be tackled when/if you have a lot of time on your hands. It is finally nice to have at least one extensive study that shows what I have assumed for the past few years. I doubt it’ll change anyone’s mind too much, but it would be nice if it does.