Pew: Teens, Social Media and Implications for Learning

The Pew Research Center just released another one of its surveys of young people, seeking to gather data on how young people are using technology. As always, it is fascinating to examine the data analysis of the Pew researchers, and think about considerations for schools, particularly the often disconnect that happens between the writing/composing they do in school and the writing/composing they do outside of school.

Look at this chart:

Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat Top Social Media Platforms for Teens
So many kids in so many spaces, with Facebook still at the top of the heap (despite reports that young people are leaving Facebook in a flurry). The number that jumps out at me is shown in the report before this: 92 percent of teenagers report going online at least once every single day. And 24 percent report being “constant” users of online sites during the day. As much as I am advocate for digital literacies, that number alarms me on some basic level, sparking the concerns about how online spaces are shaping social norms and social interactions.

Frequency of Internet Use by TeensAs educators, we need to consider this as both an opportunity for teaching skills around reading and writing and collaboration, and wonder about the time spent in social media spaces. I don’t have an answer to the question: is this good or bad? It just is. Even though my students are younger than this scale, I know I need to keep this kind of awareness of online presence in mind when I think about how best to engage my students as writers and thinkers. To turn a blind eye would be counter-productive to learning.

You need to read the whole Pew report, or the summaries, but the writers of the report do a nice job of showing the growing digital divide, too, where socio-economics play a role in access and use of technology. I suspect this issue needs to be teased out even more, particularly when it comes to school policies and priorities.

It will come as no surprise that I was interested in the results around gaming and gender. I can’t say the results were surprising, with boys dominating the graphs as players. I do wonder if the kinds/genres of games would reveal different results or tease out some interesting elements of how gaming is part of the life of teenagers. I’ll be digging deeper into the report to see. (The social media chart is part of the game chart, and it, too, is interesting to examine along gender lines)Girls Dominate Visually-Oriented Social Media Platforms













For my students, I find that there is more equity in the numbers of boys and girls playing games on mobile devices, and more boys playing console games. In our classroom work, it is clear that girls play different kinds of games than boys, too, and when we work on our video game design unit, girls design games differently than boys, too (speaking generally here). The data here is another piece of information to inform my teaching.

Pew explains how they did the survey:

Data for this report was collected for Pew Research Center. The survey was administered online by the GfK Group using its KnowledgePanel, in English and Spanish, to a nationally representative sample of over 1,060 teens ages 13 to 17 and a parent or guardian from September 25 to October 9, 2014 and February 10 to March 16, 2015. In the fall, 1016 parent-teen pairs were interviewed. The survey was re-opened in the spring and 44 pairs were added to the sample.

Peace (in the data),

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