new study released today by the National School Boards Association shows that 96 percent of students with online access use social networking technologies - defined as as chatting, text messaging, blogging, and visiting online communities such as Facebook, MySpace, and Webkinz. 81 percent say they have visited a social networking Web site within the past three months and 71 percent say they use social networking tools at least weekly. The report also claims that one of the most common topics of conversation on the social networking scene is education. Nearly 60 percent of online students report discussing education-related topics such as college or college planning, learning outside of school, and careers. And 50 percent of online students say they talk specifically about schoolwork.A
The study also shows that students are engaging in creative activities on social networking internet sites; including writing, art, and contributing to collaborative online projects "whether or not these activities are related to schoolwork". Almost half of students (49 percent) say that they have uploaded pictures they have made or photos they have taken, and more than one in five students (22 percent) report that they have uploaded video they have created. Those figures are "at some point". The weekly figures are shown in the graph below and suggest that it's probably 1/4 or less of students who do creative activities online at least once a week.
To use the television metric, teens who use social networking sites spend about 9 hours a week online compared to 10 hours a week watching television.
And here's one for the 'nerds' of a previous generation: nonconformists, defined as "students who step outside of online safety and behavior rules", are said to be "on the cutting edge" of social networking, with online behaviors and skills that indicate leadership among their peers. They are the heaviest users of social networks. The study states that one in five (22 percent) of all students surveyed, and about one in three teens (31 percent), are nonconformists. 50 percent of nonconformists are producers and 38 percent are editors of online content, compared to just 21 percent and 16 percent, respectively, of other students.
Interestingly, the NSBA report contrasts a little with another recent report, by Online Publishers Association (OPA), that suggests Internet users are spending more time looking at content and less time communicating with others. According to Nielsen/Net Rating statistics released by OSA, from January to May 2007, about 47 percent of users' time was spent looking at content and 33 percent spent on communicating - a trend attributed to an increase of online video and search usage. Although, that report doesn't account for IM as communication - which seems a bit behind the times.
What the NSBA data shows - see the report for the full details - is that US teens and tweens are not "passive couch potatoes online", as the report put it. This generation is very participative and creative online. Or at least growing more creative as time goes on and the Internet becomes more pervasive.
The report, ÄúCreating & Connecting: Research and Guidelines on Online Social and Educational Networking,Ä? is based on three surveys: an online survey of nearly 1,300 9- to 17-year-olds, an online survey of more than 1,000 parents, and telephone interviews with 250 school districts leaders who make decisions on Internet policy. The study was carried out with support from Microsoft, News Corporation, and Verizon.