Wednesday, October 14, 2009
UK online youth study on 'hybrid lives': Not
A new survey that 75% of 16-to-24-year-old Britons "couldn't live" without the Internet, the BBC reports. Published by the nonprofit organization YouthNet and presented in Parliament today, it also found that 80% of respondents use the Web to seek advice. "About one-third added that they felt no need to talk to a person face to face about their problems because of the resources available online," according to the BBC, and "76% of the survey group thought the Internet was a safe place 'as long as you know what you're doing'." The BBC cited the view of Open University psychologist Graham Brown that those who do know what they're doing are generally those who grew up with the Net." The reporters covering the story at both the BBC and the Daily Mail indicate they hadn't heard the term "digital natives" before, suggesting that the study's author, Professor Michael Hulme of Lancaster University, coined it, instead of author Marc Prensky, who first used the phrase in 2001. But what really troubles me is a characterization of youth that the Daily Mail attributed to the YouthNet report: that they're leading "hybrid lives," which suggests two separate, very different lives online and offline. Anyone with a young Facebook user at their house or who follows the growing bodies of both social-media and online-risk research knows that's not the case, except possibly for some at-risk youth engaged in anti-social behavior. For the vast majority of children and teens, online socializing is a reflection of what's going on in the rest of their lives. I hope that's what they heard in Parliament.