Friday, April 20, 2007


Inspiration for today's post: Sole-Smith, V (2007, April). The upside of online. Family Circle Magazine, 69-73.

I'm sorry to say this article is not available online, but I'm hoping Ann and Crystal just might subscribe to Family Circle. Richard, I'll try my best to extract the most important points from the article, unless of course your wife subscribes as well!

While enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon of skimming through magazines, I came across an article that includes some real statistics about teenage online usage. The blog has become mainstreamed to include all of society rather than only those who are priivy to the newest technologies. There were some interesting points about the benefits of the web (including blogs) for kids and some insightful commentary by experts and teens.

First, let's explore some stats. The source of this information ranges from surveys to studies conducted by numerous outlets.

1. "More than 40% of teens who go online say they're more outgoing when they talk to friends on the Internet" (Sole-Smith, 2007, p. 69).

It's all about connection, isn't it? As educators, learners, friends, or humans, we are always trying to make connections with others. We want to feel like we're part of something and fit in somewhere. The Internet seems to allow children and adults to feel "empowered" because many feel more secure behind the wall of the web than face-to-face (p.69). Additionally, as we have seen with Celest's Skype classroom, students who are home schooled are able to identify with the class and feel as if they belong.

2. "Twenty-six percent of online teens think the Web helps them deal with subjects that are hard to discuss, such as health and sexuality issues" (Sole-Smith, 2007, p. 70).

Yet another connection to our previous discussions. Blogs allow students to vent to peers who understand what they're going through. Sole-Smith writes "In the event of a tragic loss of a peer, pages and profiles often turn into memorials where friends of the deceased post their feelings as they grieve" (p.70). We've seen this over the past few days as the friends of those killed at Virginia Tech have posted memorials to honor their lives. Not only have these memorials served as a place to read about those lost, but they have become places for conversation, reflection, and catharsis. The author does make a good point that a child who starts to withdraw from the outside world by spending all of his or her time online might require counseling or help.

3. "A third of teens and 17% of tweens say they're able to share more with a friend online than in person" (p. 70).

Allow me to revisit the following discussion by referencing a quote made by our lovely group member Crystal Crozier; "Technology cannot replace face-to-face human interaction." I agree. At the same time, I do think that there are moments in time when technology allows us to connect with others on a deeper level than face-to-face communication as the above statistic confirms. I've always been somewhat fearful of saying my true feelings (especially when negative) to friends and family members when I am right in front of them. It's much easier for me to send a card, an email, or instant message. Richard, I know you will be one of the first to respond to this, but I'm asking if we could possibly amend the quote to the following: Technology cannot replace face-to-face communication altogether, however there are certain situations in which technology offers a superior emotional and intellectual outlet.

4. "Eighty-six percent of teenagers believe the Internet helps them do better in their classes" (p. 73).

Wow! Anyone else pleasantly surprised by this statistic? Even though I teach elementary age children, this is a definite incentive for me to create a blog next year. As for the improvement of writing skills (since I'm trying to synthesize my thoughts), I'm a firm believer that constant writing is one crucial key to success. Of course it's not the only element of powerful writing, but the exposure to different styles of writing, not to mention the public element of blogging, should facilitate gains.


Crystal Crozier said...

Laine, I am sorry to say I don't subscribe to Family Circle; however, I think you summed up this article well enough for me to understand it.

I would like to examine your points.

1. I would venture to say that even adults are more outgoing online than in person. When online, anyone can be more open because they don't necessarily have to FACE the person at that moment. I think it makes us more bold.

2. Sex, seventeen year old cousin emailed me a question about sex although I see her several times a week and talk to her almost everyday. I guess this could also go back to #1.

3. Okay, back to #2.

4. During a parent-teacher conference, I discovered that 8 out of the 11 parents I saw that night had access to the internet. Further research proved that two thirds of my class had access to the internet at home, and the one third that didn't went to the library after school to get online. I gave them the link to my web site which has links for homework help, etc., and before I knew it, most of them were visiting it, and telling me they used it to help them.

This internet stuff sure is powerful, huh?

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