WHAT FACTORS INFLUENCE INTERNET USE AMONG TEENS?

The Internet has become part of today’s teens’ culture and they are very familiar on how to use and navigate in it. This paper reflects on the factors that influence internet usage among teens based on a survey compiled by Pew Internet & American Life Project on a sample of over 1,000 adolescents between the ages of 12 to 19 who were interviewed randomly by phone. It indicates that 9 out of 10 access the internet regularly which is an increase of 75% in comparison to the year 2000. This high number is in contrast to the findings that only 66% of American adults use the internet. The study further showed that most teenagers first accessed the internet between the age of 10 and 12. 87% admitted using the internet regularly, with 52% of them accessing the internet daily, an increase from 42% in 2000. About 50% of these teenagers, their families used a speedier broadband connection with the rest using other means such as dial-up connections. Teens were found to use the internet for instant messaging, online blogs, initiating online chats and sending e-mails. In the survey, 75% use instant messaging compared to 42% of adults as a means of communication with their fellow age mates. The survey also indicates that 75% of today’s teens use the internet to read news which is a sharp increase from 38% in the year 2000. University of Diego’s technology trackers such as Susannah Stern expect instant messaging to keep growing exponentially due to peer influence. Teens interviewed felt that internet use was a source of indispensable fun and a means of communication and research. Amanda Lenhart, a Pew researcher who participated in conducting the study, found that “Teens are very selective—they’re smart about their technology use. They use it for the kinds of things they need to do.” The older teenage girls between ages 15 to 17 contrasted the myth of the tech-savvy boys since they were found to use the internet more than their male counterparts.

Literature review
To determine factors influencing Internet usage among the youths such as demographics and economic and social variables, a literature review of the available Pew research has been conducted, focusing on factors influencing teenagers’ access to the Internet or World Wide Web except for e-mailing purposes. According to the literature, students are the main users of the Internet. Jones and Madden conducted a study on high school and junior college students’ Internet usage. Browsing the Internet was a daily activity; 73% of these students used the Internet more than the library for research. Seventy-nine percent of the students agreed “that Internet use has had a positive impact on their academic experience” (Jones and Madden, 2002). Princeton Research Associates on behalf of Pew Internet & American Life Project conducted nationwide phone interviews, and did an analysis on how respondents penetrated the Internet. The data results show that all 59% of the general population penetrated the Internet less than 86% of students (Jones and Madden, 2002).

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