The internet and young people

August 10, 2008 at 11:42 pm 6 comments

It is true that with the internet’s arrival, connectivity with others increases.  Now, I can connect with someone living in Australia and I don’t have to leave my house or pay an expensive telephone bill to have a conversation or exchange information with that person.  Although internet not only has facilitated this connection around the world (wherever internet is accessible) for adults, it has also opened up an infinite portal of communication for young people as well.

 Livingstone, Bober, and Helsper, wrote a report on a research about young  people’s participation in society (Active participation or just more information? Young people’s take up of opportunities to act and interact on the internet).  This study covers the interactivity and participation of young people from UK, ages of 9-19.  The purpose was to examine whether using the internet draws young people into participation (in the public sector), developing websites, online forums, chat spaces, peer networks etc.  “Young people are dubbed ‘the internet generation’ or ‘online experts’ etc. “ 

This caught my attention in reference to the book We’re All Journalists Now, that talks about how the internet has opened up a door for everyone with access to internet; to be a journalist and how this is transforming the press. 

 This brings a very interesting subject about the participation of young people in the news.  Can this be possible?

One of the results, from the research done in UK, shows that participation of young people on civic/political websites depends on the distinct groups of young people and the opportunities to participate online.  The following characteristics were found:

Young people look for news online was only 26% and out of this percent:

·         41% of the users  between the ages of 18-19

·         34% of the users between the ages of 16-17

The highest percent of users interested in news are between the ages of 16 to 19.  They can easily become journalists among their own networks.  However, only 26% look for news online in comparison to 94% who seek information for school. This means that the majority of these users, use the internet for education purposes and not necessarily to maintain their peers inform.    

However, we must think if there is a possibility of young people to become journalists, even if they come up with a new kind of journalism like “teen journalism” (From teens to teens). Would this be beneficial for them? Can they trust their peers to communicate the news objectively? Can they be trusted? After all it’s already happening, but is known more as ‘gossip’ than news among their networks.


Entry filed under: Abstract. Tags: , .

Reflection Week 7 Video Introduction and Book Review “We’re All Journalist Now”

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Raquel Hirai  |  August 12, 2008 at 9:03 pm

    Hi Rubi,

    I think the most important finding of the research conducted by Livingstone, Bober, and Helsper is that children and teenagers are seeing the Internet as a great information source. I believe it is extremely beneficial for generations to grow up with a different mentality, an attitude that emphasizes diversity and allows people to contrast distinct opinions. If young people are using the Internet as source of information, it means that they are encountering different views for each subject researched.

    I also related this topic to one of the chapters of Wikinomics, written by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams, which highlights the importance of young people in the Internet use and its popularity. They call the youth “the net generation” or “the net gen” and perceive them as future leaders. The authors believe that the “n-geners” will introduce changes and new ideas to the marketplace with their unorthodox collaboration.

    It is important to point out that Livingstone, Bober, and Helsper’s research shows that income level may restrict Internet use. I believe it signalizes that education will have to play a very important role in order to create equal opportunities for working class children, leaving them free to discover the Internet’s potential.

  • 2. Garrett  |  August 13, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    Hey Rubi,

    It seemed the biggest problem with cultivating youth civic interaction online is found on page 4 where they found that “young people commonly declare ‘Politics’ to be boring, dull, irrelevant to them.” In many respects this stems from identity and it not being that cool to be smart.

    A lot of things in it weren’t that surprising such as participation being higher among UK middle class than “working” class. This seems to be pretty much historically true in most activist participation from Cuba to Colonial USA for much of the same reason: some sort of a literacy gap is present.

    As far as the boy-girl gap goes I’ve been thinking that part of it has to do with female primates in general probably being better at communicating en-masse than males. In our species and society this manifests itself in females having more social relationships that may take time out of the atomizing online world. At the same time I think this also helps to explain why when girls do go online they visit a broader range of civic sites (page 13). Experientially this reminds me of the
    matriarchal society that are many a non-profit organizations I’ve encountered that rely on donations. Basically, the team soliciting donations with the most girls usually carries the day in the couple hundreds of dollars of difference individually. [The primate studies I’m thinking of primarily are our closest genetic relatives, the bonobos (yes I know it’s kind of a weird connection, but all the techno-gadgets in the world doesn’t take away that I’m still hairy and occasionally quite smelly).] This is also backed up on page 18 where “this suggests that young people’s motivation to pursue civic interests online depends on their background and their socialisation [nurture>nature], and it is not affected by the amounts of time spent or levels of expertise online.”

    I thought that some of the lines in the last two pages were excellent in explaining some of the short comings of online civic/youth interaction. They showed that to the contrary of their statements, young people are more than willing to put their toes in the civic engagement water and therefore “rather than blaming young people for their apathy, the onus is now on content-producers and youth organisations to support and develop these initial interests in the online domain.” (page 17)

    Going on to say:

    “For young people to become more engaged with the civic potential of the internet, greater efforts are needed from the producers of civic sites to ensure that young people get something back from these sites… it is unclear what young people stand to gain from the opportunity to ‘have their say’ online.” (page 18)

    So, as far as can they be trusted as news I’d say probably because the kids interested in reading them will already be reading other stuff to corroborate stories and already identify with thinking it’s cool to know things about the world.

  • 3. Nole  |  August 13, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    I thought the article was an interesting study, the average age of children becoming more active on the internet was lower than what I had expected it to be, but I guess this shouldn’t be that surprising. I liken this trend to the same one that relates to children with their own cell phones now days, the age is lower than the previous average of when i was a teenager. As communication and technology become more and more a prominent part of peoples lives, the more younger generations will be exposed to them at a young age.
    This can only be a good thing, the more younger people are exposed to the net, the more they will think of new ideas for the net to be used as a communication tools.
    As for young people becoming a sort of online journalist, once a way arises for young people to collaborate and post their findings, I think it could be a legitimate source of news for their generation. On a community level I think this is very feasible. What better source of information concerning schools in a community are there than the actual students attending these schools?

  • 4. PK  |  August 13, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    Hi Rubi,
    I thought the paper by Livingstone, Bober and Helsper was quite interesting. Particularly their insight on user categorization. Rather than thinking in terms of classic demographic data, they found categories such as interactors, civic minded and disengaged to be more representative of the groups of young people and their varied online habits. Two key things struck me about this paper:
    1. The study was done in 2004. Social media has evolved significantly in the past four years, so I’d be curious what differences they would find if they were to do the study today. My guess is that they would find more politically oriented activity, given the rise of “platforms” such as Facebook. Although MySpace was the hot platform in 2004 there was far less emphasis on activism than there is today.
    2. The impact of the digital divide. The fact that lower income kids are less likely to engage online is not that surprising because there is less online “leisure” time than with the kids who have a computer in their home (or in their room). Invariably the lower income kids are using computers at libraries or schools which likely means their online time is more task-oriented than enagement-oriented.

  • 5. Brian Johnson  |  August 13, 2008 at 8:25 pm


    Interesting article you chose. I am reading We Are All Journalists Now by Scott Gant and I can also see the relationship between the books.

    You asked a couple of questions, “Can they trust their peers to communicate the news objectively? Can they be trusted? After all it’s already happening, but is known more as ‘gossip’ than news among their networks.”

    As much as I despise those Saturday morning news shows anchored by 13 year olds, teens do have a voice but I am not sure I would call them journalists. Depending on the subject, teens can be a hell of a lot more knowledgeable and trustworthy than adults. Am I going to look to teens to provide insightful journalistic content about mortgage rates? No way! Are they better informed on the latest text messaging etiquette? Most certainly.

    I wish the article had come out in 2007 and they could have replaced that dreadful question about creating a homepage with a question about creating profiles on social networks. It is unfortunate that a study about online interactivity came out three years before social networks became big. That obviously would have changed this study at its core, but I think it would provide more valuable information especially in the political area.

    Young people online are going to do the things that are cool and not what some campaigns that encourage them to get involved with politics. The “man” needs to stay out of it and let the kids discover for themselves what their interests are. The kids that are interested in politics will naturally gravitate to political websites, and the kids that want to talk about video games are going to do just that.

  • 6. kegill  |  August 17, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    Great insights, everyone. Rubi, I think young people *have* to become involved with the news if they are going to see relevance. But that also means that teachers — and family members — have to be modeling news consumption, I believe.

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