The Internet at School

Lee Rainie and Paul Hitlin (PDF version):

The internet is an important element in the overall educational experience of many teenagers. Schools are a common location where online teens access the web, although very few online teenagers rely exclusively on their school for that web access. Further, there is widespread agreement among teens and their parents that the internet can be a useful tool for school. However, 37% of teens say they believe that “too many” of their peers are using the internet to cheat. And there is some disagreement among teens and their parents about whether children must be web-literate by the time they begin school. Additionally, large numbers of teens and adults have used the web to search for information about colleges and universities.
The most recent Pew Internet Project survey finds that 87% of all youth between the ages of 12 and 17 use the internet. That translates into about 21 million people. Of those 21 million online teens, 78% (or about 16 million students) say they use the internet at school. Put another way, this means that 68% of all teenagers have used the internet at school.
This represents growth of roughly 45% over the past four years from about 11 million teens who used the internet in schools in late 2000. In the Pew Internet Project survey in late 2000, we found that 73% of those ages 12 to 17 used the internet and that 47% of those in that age cohort used the internet at school.

One thought on “The Internet at School”

  1. Jim,
    Thanks for posting this. I think there are multiple issues around whether schools make full use of the Internet and, if so, how they approach students and parents about the opportunities.
    As a parent who embraces the potential of the Web, I cringe when I get the permission slip each year that essentially asks whether it is OK for my child to use the Internet when there might be all sorts of bad stuff out there (unlike what we get over cable TV or video games…).
    I also cringe when students are turned loose with little information on how to try to distinguish between reliable/authenticated sources and The Onion.
    Most libraries and library schools are doing a LOT of work on how to authenticate sources, but that work doesn’t seem to be showing up in the K-12 system thus far. Part of that may be due to the tendency at the school, city, and state levels to include librarians in the first groups to be laid off under budget cuts. It’s a shame because this is a group that could really help kids to use the wealth of information that is available on-line.
    Finally, I’m not sure that the resources that are being developed at the college level to deal with real issues of cheating/plagiarism via the internet, are making it to the K-12 levels, either.
    The sad part is that K-12 students with computers and internet connections at home have access to on-line materials. If their parents have a background in locating and assessing on-line sources, they are learning how to approach those materials in a critical manner.
    The students who are most hurt with the information deficits in the schools are the ones who are most likely to use the internet only if it is widely available at school AND there are good training programs in how to be a wise user.

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