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Bonnie Sutton

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Facebook. Twitter and Google+. Parent's Guide to Facebook News on Teens Blogs

started by Bonnie Sutton on 05 Feb 12
  • Bonnie Sutton
    Spotlight on Digital Media and Learning

    PLAYBACK: News on Teens and Blogs, Facebook, Twitter and Google+, And Schools That Don't Allow Them

    Posted: 03 Feb 2012 02:22 PM PST

    In this week's PLAYBACK, blogging is better than diary writing in relieving stress, a new Parent's Guide to Facebook, S. Craig Watkins on what kids miss out on when schools block social media, and more.


    Filed by Christine C.

    Blogging is better than diary writing in relieving stress, a new Parent's Guide to Facebook, S. Craig Watkins on what kids miss out on when schools block social media, and more ...

    Blogging as Therapy: A new study published in the journal Psychological Services has concluded that blogging openly about the trials and tribulations of teenage life offers even greater therapeutic value than keeping a personal diary.

    The study, based on 161 high school students in Israel-124 girls and 37 boys, with an average age of 15-found writing and engaging with an online community was most effective in relieving stress. While the study's authors acknowledge the skewed sex ratio was a limitation in the study, they found boys and girls responded similarly.

    "Research has shown that writing a personal diary and other forms of expressive writing are a great way to release emotional distress and just feel better," the study's lead author, Meyran Boniel-Nissim, PhD, of the University of Haifa, Israel, said in a press release from the American Psychological Association. "Teens are online anyway, so blogging enables free expression and easy communication with others."

    "Although cyberbullying and online abuse are extensive and broad, we noted that almost all responses to our participants' blog messages were supportive and positive in nature," said the study's co-author, Azy Barak. "We weren't surprised, as we frequently see positive social expressions online in terms of generosity, support and advice."

    One 17-year-old blogger from Norfolk, Va., who did not participate in the study told The New York Times: "People will write in the comments, 'I remember when I was in your shoes' and 'Don't worry - you'll get through the SATs!' and it's wonderful. It really helps put everything into perspective."

    Plus: In the article "Coming of Age Online: The Developmental Underpinnings of Girls' Blogs," Katie Davis, a doctoral student at Harvard Graduate School of Education, interviewed 20 young women, ages 17 to 21, who have been blogging for at least three years. Putting her study in the context of other studies of youths' online activities, Davis found that the changes in the content and style of the blogs themselves reflect the long-understood changes in social and cognitive development in youth. Read more about girls carving out their own space online.

    Social Media as an Integral Part of Adolescence: More than a century ago, the telephone was seen as a technological threat to the social order. "Men would be calling women and making lascivious comments, and women would be so vulnerable, and we'd never have civilized conversations again," Megan Moreno, a specialist in adolescent medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, tells Perri Klass, a physician who writes for The New York Times.

    Sound familiar? While much of the early research on adolescent use of social media tended to focus on potential dangers, Klass notes that there now seems to be a more nuanced understanding of how teenagers are spending time online, and research reflects that.

    "We should not view social media as either positive or negative, but as essentially neutral," said Michael Rich, a pediatrician and the director of the Center on Media and Child Health at Children's Hospital Boston. "It's what we do with the tools that decides how they affect us and those around us."

    Klass, who travels back and forth between the worlds of academic pediatrics and academic journalism, writes that she is "struck by the focus in both settings on the potential - and the risks - of social media and on the importance of understanding how communication is changing." Continue reading her thoughtful assessment.

    Plus: Concerns about social media paving a direct pathway to bad behavior may also be alleviated by the latest University of Michigan Monitoring the Future study. The report, which has tracked teenage risk behaviors since 1975, shows that adolescent use of alcohol, tobacco and most illegal drugs is far lower than it was three decades ago. Here's the overview of key findings (pdf).

    A New York Times column based on the report, "The Kids are More Than All Right," will appear in this weekend's Sunday Magazine.

    "Nobody knows exactly why sex and drug use has declined among teenagers, but there are a number of compelling possibilities that may have contributed," writes Tara Parker-Pope. "The last three decades have included a rise in the drinking age to 21; a widespread fear of H.I.V.; and legal challenges that stymied tobacco marketing. And while cellphones and Facebook have created new ways for teenagers to stir up trouble, they may also help parents monitor their children. Still, today's children have found ways to rebel (think energy drinks and sexting) that aren't tracked in national surveys."

    Everything You Wanted to Know About Facebook and Were Afraid to Ask: If you're a parent struggling to understand your child's use of Facebook, this 34-page Parent's Guide to Facebook, just released by is, for you.

    The 2012 version features updated information about Facebook's Timeline, privacy controls and social reporting. Read Anne Collier's post to learn more.

    Teens and Twitter: While some teenagers are adding Twitter to the mix of social networks they use, they're not giving up Facebook to do it. That's the gist of reactions to this AP story, which suggested teens were migrating from one social space to the other. As Emil Protalinski writes at ZDNet:

    The report quotes findings from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, a nonprofit organization that monitors people's tech-based habits, to prove its point. Specifically, the data shows 8 percent of teenagers used Twitter in late 2009, and the number doubled to 16 percent in July 2011.

    That's not the whole story though. In July 2011, Pew also some questions to just teenagers who maintain social media accounts. Taking this slightly smaller number of users, Pew split them into two groups: those who have one social media account, and those who have multiple social media accounts. The numbers there were much more telling: of teenagers who use just one social network, 89 percent are using Facebook. Less than 1 percent are using just Twitter. Of teenagers who have more than one social network, 99 percent are using Facebook, and 29 percent are using Twitter as well.

    Plus: Now that Google+ has opened up to teens age 13 and older, hanging out may take on a whole other meaning.

    Here's the Google+ Teen Safety Guide. One of the interesting features, writes Neil Vidyarthi, is the Hangout kickout: "If a teenager is in a video/audio Hangout and a person enters the chat who is not in one of their circles, the teenager is booted out of the Hangout until they either add the person to their network. Not exactly an impenetrable solution, but a small gesture to educate teenagers and one that parents may appreciate."

    When Schools Block Social Media: S. Craig Watkins nudges the debate about social media use in schools by adding his insight, based on the past year spent working in a high school, about what schools end up blocking when they block social media. In one word: opportunity.

    Watkins, author of "The Young and the Digital: What the Migration to Social Network Sites, Games, and Anytime, Anywhere Media Means for Our Future" (Beacon, 2009), describes working with a teacher in a technology application class on using digital media to tell compelling stories about the challenges of teen life. But the kids can't critique PSA narrative styles and strategies because they can't access YouTube. They can't work during class on a Facebook poll to build "user personas" of their peers because they can't get on Facebook. And not all of them have internet access at home.

    We are learning a lot about how young people from this community, which has been hit especially hard by the recession and the growing wealth gap in the United States, are managing their participation in the digital world. The old theories about the digital divide-the access narrative-only explain a small part of what is happening in edge communities.

    The real issue, of course, is not social media but learning. Specifically, the fact that our schools are disconnected from young learners and how their learning practices are evolving.

    Read the rest here.

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