A recent study, conducted by Oxford University’s department of education and partially funded by the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (BECTA), examined how UK teenagers are using the internet and came away with two interesting conclusions:
1. Teenagers who do not have Internet access in their home feel they are “educationally disadvantaged”
2. The benefits of Internet access, including access to social media, far outweigh any perceived risks.
During the study, which surveyed 1000 randomly selected households in the UK as well as conducting face to face interviews with over 200 teenagers and their families between 2008 and 2011, researchers estimated that approximately 10% of teenagers in the country were without Internet access at home. The interviews revealed that teenagers without Internet access felt shut out of their peer group socially as well as being disadvantaged in their studies. One enterprising teen whose parents had divorced and who lacked Internet access went so far as to have his father conduct research for him and then send him the hard copy results through regular snail-mail.
A comment by one of the researchers, Dr. Chris Davies, outlines the second major finding of the study: “Parental anxiety about how teenagers might use the very technologies that they have bought their own children at considerable expense is leading some to discourage their children from becoming confident users. The evidence, based on the survey and hundreds of interviews, shows that parents have tended to focus on the negative side – especially the distracting effects of social networking sites – without always seeing the positive use that their children often make of being online.”
Here is a link to a press release about the study on the Oxford University site.