Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Teens Gone Mobile

According to a recent report from the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project, millennials are changing their social networking practices as technology becomes more mobile.  A lessor percentage of teens are blogging, instead choosing to micro-blog and communicate in the form of status lines primarily using social-networking sites.  A sort of "fast food" approach to communication.

A brief summary of this latest report shows:

As of September 2009, 93% of American teens between the ages of 12 and 17 went online, a number that has remained stable since November 2006.

  • Blogging has declined in popularity among both teens and young adults since 2006. Blog commenting has also dropped among teens.
  • While blogging among adults as a whole has remained steady, the prevalence of blogging within specific age groups has changed dramatically in recent years. Specifically, a sharp decline in blogging by young adults has been tempered by a corresponding increase in blogging among older adults.
  • Both teen and adult use of social networking sites has risen significantly, yet there are shifts and some drops in the proportion of teens using several social networking site features.
  • Teens are not using Twitter in large numbers. While teens are bigger users of almost all other online applications, Twitter is an exception.
  • Wireless internet use rates are especially high among young adults, and the laptop has replaced the desktop as the computer of choice among those under thirty.
  • Cell phone ownership is nearly ubiquitous among teens and young adults, and much of the growth in teen cell phone ownership has been driven by adoption among the youngest teens.
  • Internet use is near‐ubiquitous among teens and young adults. In the last decade, the young adult internet population has remained the most likely to go online.
 You can read the entire report, including an expansion of the key findings summary at‐Media‐and‐Young‐Adults.aspx.

I would be interested in opinions on how these changes may impact schools and the resulting greater use of mobile technology in education.  Specifically:

  1. If teens are losing interest in blogging, how will this impact efforts at schools to exploit their use of technology to improve literacy skills?
  2. How can schools effectively utilize the growth in social-networking and micro-blogging to develop collaborative, problem-solving skills?
  3. Are traditional computer labs in schools going the way of the dinosaur?  Should schools even be investing in computing devices or simply finding ways to open existing networks to a variety of personal digital devices?
  4. Given the growing use of mobile technology, once and for all should bans on personal communication devices (aka, cell phones) in schools finally be scrapped in favor of responsibility-based acceptable use policies?

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