Kids these days...

John Martin's picture

(I started this as a reply to John Thomson's post& "Blogging no longer a hit with teens, but quickly realized that it's less about what kids don't do —blogging— and more about what they do —social networking.)

They don't email.

They don't tweet.

And now they don't blog?

What *do* they do?

From the Pew report:

  • 73% of wired American teens now use social networking websites, a significant increase from previous surveys. Just over half of online teens (55%) used social networking sites in November 2006 and 65% did so in February 2008.
  • 62% of online teens get news about current events and politics online.
  • 48% of wired teens have bought things online like books, clothing or music, up from 31% who had done so in 2000 when we first asked about this.
  • 31% of online teens get health, dieting or physical fitness information from the internet. And 17% of online teens report they use the internet to gather information about health topics that are hard to discuss with others such as drug use and sexual health topics.
What this suggests (to me, at least) is that the internet is largely a social medium for teens. And thus is following social conversation norms: 
  • less soapbox (hence less interest in long formats, such as blogs and email)
  • more connections and interest in the knowledge and information that their peers feel is important (social networks)
  • more quips (short formats, such as status updates and comments), but they don't want these to be public — they want to control who sees them (thus, not Twitter).
What are the implications for technology in higher education?

These 12-17 year olds will become our students for the next 5-10 years, and the habits that they have formed will guide them as they enter into our universities. So, we should pay attention and try to meet them half way rather than force them into a system designed by (and thus according to the habits of) Academic Technologists who are a generation or two older (I include myself here).

I don't have a set of implications in a clear and concise form that I can post here, but I invite people to post their ideas and observations into this conversation.

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John Thomson's picture

Best of both worlds

Nice reply, John--thanks!

I had to stew on this for a couple of days, but thinking about this in the context of my home school (Journalism), I'm wondering if we need to give students an understanding of all of these tools in higher ed. Conversation can be great, because it lowers the bar for questions and can make learning authentic, but the longer reflection in a paper (with page limits and citation guidelines) is a skill that we have long valued for good reason. I know that in the J-School, we see that these skills create better journalists.

I think having exposure to all of these might make better journalists as well. Knowing how to network on Twitter, post a good blog entry (with a few good sources), and how to write a depth reporting piece are all expectations employers will have.

I guess it's our job to help think about the best ways they can be used in the classroom, while being sensitive to where students are coming from.