New Pew Internet report looks at teen gaming and civic effects

During my last six months in DC, I worked almost exclusively on the Pew Internet Project’s most recent report, Teens, Video Games and Civics, which was released Tuesday. This report looks at the gaming activities of 12-17 year-olds in the U.S.: the types of games they play, how they play them, and the social aspect of gaming. Furthermore, the report found positive connections between gameplay and civic behavior.

Having been a gamer since about age 6 when I would play Space Invaders and Breakthrough on my parents’ Atari, this report is very near and dear to me. Gaming is now ubiquitous — 97% of teens play video games. this means that girls are now playing games about as often as boys, which was certainly not the case 20 years ago. I remember being one of the only girls in my gradeschool who actively played video games on a regular basis; while it didn’t seem to bother me at the time (because finishing Ninja Gaiden was too important!), I am heartened that kids share games to a larger degree now.

Based on the data in this survey, I think we can safely say that video games are not the devil-spawn that some more of the more outspoken conservatives like to proclaim. Gaming, like everything else out there, has a good and a bad side, but in my opinion, the good tends to outweigh the bad. Kids who game are not missing out on life, but are instead interacting with their peers, and in some cases, learning from their experiences and getting more involved with their community.

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New blog post on Pew Internet Project site

My latest post is up on the Pew Internet website. This one considers my master’s thesis research in light of the Project’s recent report on the impact of technology on teens’ writing havits, which I have previously blogged about here. Check it out.

For my master’s thesis at Georgetown University, I was interested in how 21st century communication technologies are changing the ways in which people interact with members of their social networks. Specifically, I focused my research on how Facebook is altering the methods users employ to build and maintain a network of friends. This research was facilitated by a survey of 644 Georgetown undergraduates on their uses of various communication technologies, and especially the internet, in keeping connected with others.

I recently began thinking of my research in light of Pew’s recent Writing, Technology and Teens report, and saw several interesting connections between the two. Both studies focus on digital natives, or those users who have had access to many of these newer communication technologies since a young age: Pew’s report looks at 12-17 year olds, while my research was limited to college undergraduates ages 18-25. Furthermore, both studies consider the implications of technology on communication. Therefore, the question that arose in my mind was, do the trends we found in our Pew report among younger teens also apply to young adults? [More…]

OMG Mom, I’m talking to my BFF: New Pew Internet Report gets to the heart of teen writing

Ahh kids. So cute, aren’t they? These little “digital native”-buggers take to new technology like a fat kid takes I would take to an ice cream cone on a hot summer day. Teens and young adults are some of the most Internet-savvy people out there, and they have often mastered new gadgets before their parents have mastered the “on/off” switch.” For example, think back to last summer when a 17-year-old boy managed to hack into and unlock an iPhone. I don’t even think I’d be able to get the case off the phone, and I consider myself relatively intelligent when it comes to new technologies.

So, the question then becomes, what kind of impacts are these new technologies having on the current generation of young people? Will the technology help them become smarter, more astute adults who know a lot more about more things than their parents’ generation? Or will they degrade into a mass of acronym-spewing, proper-English-devoid, short-conversation imbeciles? Case in point, a fabulous Verizon commercial that debuted relatively recently:

This question is the focus of the Pew Internet Project’s latest report, Writing, Technology, and Teens, which considers the methods teens use to write, both in formal and informal situations, and how the Internet and more abbreviated forms of communication (e.g., emoticons, lack of proper grammar like capitalizations and punctuation, and the use of abbreviations such as LOL, etc.), are creeping into students’ more formal writing endeavors.

This is a great read if you have any interest on the impact of technology on youth. For a brief summary of findings, check out the Associated Press’ article on the report here.