Teen Activity on the Internet

Nearly 20 million kids between the ages of 12 and 17 are using the Internet on a daily basis. That’s roughly 85%-90% of that age group nationwide. Internet use among teenagers is a very large market, and everybody knows it. Because of the size of this demographic, we need to be extra vigilant about what kids are doing on the Internet.

This is not to say that there are 20 million kids on all at the same time. That would be absurd. There are, however, a little more than half that amount on at any given moment. That’s substantial. That is a staggering statistic, especially when you consider the fact that the 20 million figure represents a nearly 300% increase in the last ten years as opposed to a 10% increase in adult Internet use over the same time period.

With all of these teenagers using the Internet so much so often, we need to ask ourselves what they are actually doing. Millions of kids aren’t just checking email. Research and surveys have shown that kids log on to play games, get news content, purchase goods and services, and obtain information related to health and wellness. This isn’t a comprehensive list of teen activity on the web, of course, but it does represent what a large portion of them are doing.

In fact, many teenagers use the Internet to do research for homework, scores of younger teen girls seem interested in the latest fashion trends and celebrity news, and a good portion of them download music (legally and otherwise).

With the increasing popularity of personal websites and small organization websites, kids are getting their information on local events and sports scores from the Internet. In the last few years it seems that every local club, sports team and social club has their own website, making it easier for anyone to keep up with the group’s activities. Meetings, games, and activities no longer have to be published and mailed, but can just be posted for all to see.

The anonymous nature of the Internet has led scores of young girls to use it to research topics related to health. Dieting, exercise, depression, and other personal subject matters are popular searches for teen girls. This may have something to do with the fact that many teens feel uncomfortable talking about these things with their parents or another adult. In this sense, some teens are using the Internet as a stand in for what used to be the job of a parent, guardian, or teacher.

Other popular uses of the Internet include instant messaging, social bookmarking sites like MySpace and Twitter, and online bulletin boards or forums. Many teens have admitted to maintaining several screen names and email addresses, which they use depending on who they are dealing with. The Internet allows someone to have multiple personalities and identities, and that is very alluring to a teen.

That’s not always a bad thing, though. Teens are always trying to figure out the road to adulthood, and the Internet seems to allow them the freedom to experiment with different forays into the adult world with little to no lasting repercussions. The danger comes when a teen can’t separate reality from the online world. As a parent or teacher, your job is to make clear the difference between the real world and the fantasy world that many teens create for themselves on the Internet.

Have a great day!