There are many concerns about teens’ use of the Internet that have been voiced by parents and educators over the years. While many concerns may still be legitimate, at least one study offered some positive news. A study by the McArthur Foundation came out recently that indicates that teens’ socializing on the Internet is generally not a bad thing. The study, which was based on interviews with over 800 teens and their parents and observations of over 5,000 hours of teens’ online behavior, found that most teens steer clear of dangerous web sites and primarily use the web for research or communicating with friends.
There is an undeniable fact in here: Teens’ social networks are now inextricably woven into their web usage. Thus, to participate socially, the vast majority of teens must be active online. This facilitates the learning of many social and technical skills, such as collaborative projects and creating/editing/posting videos to sites such as YouTube. Parents should have some frank discussions with their teens about Internet usage and provide some monitoring and guidance. However, parents need to accept that the teens need to be adept at Internet usage to develop some of the social and technical skills necessary to be successful in our society…and the society of the future.