Kids & The Internet: The Benefits
Today’s iGeneration (teens and middle-schoolers) are internet savvy thanks to the existence of online gaming sites, virtual worlds, forums, message boards, online communities and social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Kidssocialnetwork, Club Penguin, Moshi Monsters, Togetherville and Everloop.
While access to these sites is often through a desktop computer or a laptop, mobile devices represent a large part of the social media movement with teens representing 19% of the 12.3 million active social networkers. 75% of teens now own cell phones: 25% use them for social media, 54% use them for texting and 24% use them for instant messaging.
According to a Common Sense Media poll from August 2009, 22% of teenagers log on to their favorite social media site more than 10 times a day and more than half of tweens log on to a social media site more than once a day. In a study by the National School Boards Association, 60% of kids surveyed reported that some of the most popular social networking topics were college planning, learning, careers, and schoolwork.
While there are risks in being online, there are also many potential benefits:
- Social Connections: Social networking is today’s version of hanging out but rather than taking place at a friend’s house or at the mall, it happens online. Social networking provides opportunities to develop new relationships and strengthen existing ones. For the shy child, participation in online conversations can help boost their confidence especially for those who don’t quite ‘fit in’ at school.
- Skills: Being online offers the opportunity for a child to develop technical skills (posting to blogs, uploading photos and video) and media literacy through exposure to different types of online media.
- Creativity: Exposure to the online world can encourage the growth of ideas through reading blogs, watching videos or listening to podcasts. This reinforces the value of exchanging ideas and helps the child with written expression and language skills.
- Cultures: The world is smaller than ever and young people who spend time online have the opportunity to learn the nuances of other cultures and gain perspective through interaction with those whose background is different than their own.
- Education: The internet is frequently used to supplement the education provided in the classroom, extending it outside the child’s immediate surroundings. Online interaction often replaces traditional learning methods by connecting students with peers on homework or group projects.
Internet and social networking websites have the potential to improve your child’s knowledge and skills and help them maintain on-going communication with friends and family.