Young people are high users of the Internet but we know very little about how they use the Internet, how they “are distributing their engagement across the various resources of the Internet”. This knowledge might be useful for learning and education.
Researchers collected data from a nationally representative face to face survey of young people (n=1069) in Britain aged 8, 12, 14 and 17–19. These four age groups were selected to capture young people’s experiences of new technologies at different developmental and social stages.
The four profiles
- The peripherals. A large group (31%) of young people that use the Internet the least frequent. They mostly use Internet for writing and making powerpoint presentations but even less so than other groups. In this group were those who were more likely to be younger and without an Internet connection at home
- The normatives. The largest group (31%) who exhibit average use of Internet for communicating, entertaining and information seeking. They use Internet less for creative activity and online participation. The normative group has less parental regulation over their Internet use than the other three groups, is less likely to have friends engaged in technology compared to the all-rounder group and less likely to employ a problem solving approach compared to the active participator group.
- The all-rounders use Internet for all 5 types of Internet use: communicating, information seeking, entertainment, participating and creativity. They comprise a quarter of the sample. They are more likely to have friends who are engaged in technology and more likely to have parents who control their use of the Internet compared to those in the normative group.
- The active participators. This is the smallest group (14%). They use the Internet the most frequently for all five activities of all the groups, and tend to engage in online participatory behaviors (like contributing to a blog or wiki) more frequently. hey tend to use a more problem solving approach to new technologies.
Why is this important?
Young people can be categorized to four distinct profiles of Internet use. Each type of use may lead to opportunities for learning to occur; and it is thus reasonable to assume that those who use the Internet for different purposes may be benefiting in different ways or to a different degree.
Eynon, R., & Malmberg, L. (2011). A typology of young people’s Internet use: Implications for education Computers & Education, 56 (3), 585-595 DOI: 10.1016/j.compedu.2010.09.020