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An Interview with Malini Hoover: Adolescents on the Internet

Apr 22, 2010 by

Michael F. Shaughnessy
Eastern New Mexico University
Portales, New Mexico

  1. I understand that the Pew Organization has just released some findings about adolescent use of the Internet. What is the big news?

93% of teens are online according to Pew Research, a 20% increase from 2000 to 2009. The big news is that teens are spending the majority of their free time on the Internet. With abundant negative messages, the Internet can be a risky source of information for teens. Websites like iaam.com, which provide financial and life-skill lessons through entertainment and positive, empowering messages, are critical to a positive teen Internet experience.

  1. If adolescents are spending more time on the Internet, that could mean they are spending less time on homework and less time reading. Would you agree?

A lot of teens today lack time management skills and are unable to stop themselves spending time on social media sites, constantly checking on what their friends are doing, which leads them to procrastinate homework and reading. This has a direct impact on their academics, social lives, and physical activities. It would be better for them to spend time in a positive media environment where they can entertain themselves in teen friendly social web 2.0 setting, learn important life lessons and be inspired to do best in their lives.

  1. What about these tweeters and Blogs and Face Books- how rampant is their usage?

According Pew Research, teen use of Twitter and Blogs are considerably down, while time spent on social media sites like Facebook is considerably up.

  1. Is there any one single site that seems to be utilized more than others?

The two most popular websites for teens are Facebook and YouTube.

  1. Do teenagers turn to the internet for help with their interpersonal problems or concerns?

According to Pew Research about 17% go online to gather information on topics that may be too uncomfortable to broach with a parent or guardian, such as issues relating to drug use and sexual health.

  1. As an educator, I am concerned that adolescents may not think critically about what they are reading or the sites that they are going to–your thoughts?

H. J. Cheon wrote in the Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media that children’s exposure to inappropriate media content yields many negative outcomes, such as increased aggression, fear, desensitization, poor school performance, symptoms of psychological trauma, antisocial behavior, negative self-perception, low self-esteem, lack of reality, identity confusion, and more. But it is impractical to expect to keep teens off the Internet. That’s why it’s very important to gear them to positive websites that provide useful information, boost their self esteem, and encourage them to be successful in all aspects of life.

  1. Do parents really monitor their kids’ use of the Internet? Or are kids just surfing the net whenever and wherever they want?

Parents are genuinely concerned about their teens’ safety online. 88% of parents think it’s more important to know what their kids are doing online than to restrict access (National Attitudinal Poll, Common Sense Media, June 7, 2006). But there are plenty of teens who go on the Internet without their parent’s knowledge.

As a parent I want my twin girls to be exposed to positive and empowering media to help them succeed in all aspects of life and fulfill their inner potential. As a media entrepreneur, I want to provide a positive message to counteract the negative messages of violence, deceit, sex, and drugs that bombard today’s teens. This vision motivated me to become a social entrepreneur by launching the website www.iaam.com, The Teen Entertainment & Life Skills Multimedia Network, in Oct. 2009. iaam.com is like Nickelodeon on a financial and life-skills mission. iaam is the acronym for I am a Millionaire in all aspects of life.

  1. We have some data from the past ten years–any recommendations from the Pew Foundation?

Some of the key findings from Pew Foundation are as follows:

  • Seventy three percent of teens went online in 2000 versus

  • 93 percent (20 percent increase) in 2009;

  • Nearly 73 percent of teens go online for social networking reasons, compared to just 55 percent of teens who did so three years ago;

  • Sixty-two percent of teens use the internet for news and politics;

Thirty one percent of teens get health, dieting or physical fitness information from the internet

Pew Foundation is providing this research to educators and businesses who are involved with teens to use this information to update delivery of their message.

  1. What Have I neglected to ask?

Let me describe our site. www.iaam.com is unique in delivering life-skills information through modern multimedia and entertainment using social web 2.0 technology, making it competitive with other teen sites. Statistics show that information presented in interactive multimedia formats is well-retained. This key realization guides iaam.com’s delivery of informational, educational, and entertainment news. iaam.com offers stimulating information through an online teen magazine covering topics like money management, careers, health and nutrition, sports and wellness, the arts, environment, ethics, charitable causes, expert advice, entrepreneurship, investigative journalism, inspirational blogs, life-skills comics, news, music videos, humorous videos, jokes, and interactive games. Educators are using the site in their classrooms by having students participate in iaam contests, teaching them to communicate in digital media and helping them connect with their passions. Career counselors are using the site to prepare teens for the real world and introducing them to various careers through iaam interviews. Parents and teachers recognize the need for positive media for our children. It is here, so let’s spread the message: www.iaam.com.

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