"More than half of online teens have created content for the Internet."
In schools we ask learners to create content all the time: essays, reports, speeches, reviews, journals, etc. Are we asking them to learn how to create this in the environment that will be their world of the future? Maybe, since most projects specifications have evolved from pen and pencil to PC. Then again, is word processing the ultimate mode?
The opening quote is from the Pew Internet & American Life report on teens and how they use and create content. Clearly they do more than download music!
Teen Content Creators and Consumers: Summary of Findings at a Glance
* -More than half of online teens are content creators.
* -Nineteen percent of online teens keep a blog, and 38 percent read them.
* -Older girls lead the blogging activity among teens.
* -Teen bloggers are tech-savvy and heavy Internet users.
* -Half of online teens say they currently download music files and close to one-third say they download video.
* -Most teen downloaders think that getting free music is easy, and it's unrealistic to expect people not to do it.
* -Teens are as likely now to have paid for music online as they are to have tried peer-to-peer services.
Source: Lenhart, A. and Madden, M. Teen Content Creators and Consumers. Washington, DC: Pew In-ternet & American Life Project, Nov. 2, 2005.
Here's more from that report:
Some 57% of online teens create content for the Internet. That amounts to half of all teens ages 12-17, or about 12 million youth. These content creators report having done one or more of the following activities: create a blog; create or work on a personal webpage; create or work on a webpage for school, a friend, or an organization; share original content such as artwork, photos, stories, or videos online; or remix content found online into a new creation.
This is pretty interesting. While we may be seeing some learner resistance to traditional writing and creation activities, maybe we can increase their engagement in learning good writing, editing, and information literacy competencies by aligning some of the projects with a Web-based option. It's certainly worth a try. Many teachers and librarians are already doing a lot of these innovative project assignments.
Before we get into the ideas that follow, it behooves me to remind everyone that this is also the ideal environment to teach and reinforce the exact skills young learners need to safely use the Web. The Canadian Media Awareness Network, in addition to hundreds of other organizations like ALA, AASL, etc., offers many tools to support this teaching effort. Their "Safe Passage" Web pages are pretty good at teaching the basics of the Internet (Web sites, e-mail, instant messaging, chat rooms, file sharing, text messaging, etc.) and pointing to tools that help learners get the most out of the Internet (effective online searching, kid-friendly search engines and directories, special technologies like filters and monitors) as well as reinforcing the need to have skills to combat the riskier stuff like privacy invasions, pornography, cyber-bullying, online predators, spam, misinformation, violent and hateful content, gambling, and how to report trouble. In addition, we must constantly reinforce the issues of information ethics and good copyright behaviors.
The most popular teen content creation activities involve sharing work with others. This goes well beyond simple Web pages. Thirty-three percent of online teens create and share photos, stories, videos, and artwork online. Thirty-two percent have worked on friends' and others' pages, and 22 percent own a personal Web page. The same number own or participate in others' blogs. Nineteen percent remix Web content (sometimes called mashups) with their works.
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