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Facebook Generation Builds Its Skills

Let 'em surf, the professor says.

Let 'em surf, the professor says.

LOWER POTTSGROVE PA – Parents shouldn’t be too worried about their teens’ use of digital media like Facebook websites, phone texting or online game-playing, a Florida State University (FSU) professor said Monday (Dec. 22, 2008). Rather than wasting their time, she noted, these technologies actually help kids learn social and technical skills online.

Dr. Lisa Tripp, an assistant professor in FSU’s College of Information, recently helped complete a university study on youth media usage in the U.S. It concludes that digital media activities capture teens’ attention because they extend social worlds, and increase learning and independence, according to Tripp.

Social networking sites like Facebook are now fixtures of youth culture, the study reported, even though the technology behind them barely existed just 10 years ago. Researchers found such sites allow users to be in nearly constant touch.

Facebook, launched in 2004, lets users create and exchange profiles, photos, lists of personal interests and other information that connects them to others. It’s popular among both current students and alumni of Pottsgrove High School; five different Facebook groups for Pottsgrove include a total of 1,102 members.

Other Facebook groups have been created for former employees of the Sanatoga Thriftway grocery store (41 members) and customers of the former’s Kemp’s Market at East High Street and North Pleasantview Road (11 members).

The three-year study was part of a $50 million project on digital and media learning funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.  Tripp is one of the co-authors of a final report on the project, to be published by MIT Press as a book called “Hanging Out, Messing Around, Geeking Out: Living and Learning with New Media.”

Photo by Vangelis Thomaidis

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