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Children and Social Media

Thursday, Dec. 06, 2012

two children using a computer keyboard

How much do we know about online behavior by children?

Little is known about children and social media, according to a recent study. The lack of information is not necessarily because kids aren’t using social sites, but because studying their online behavior is a real challenge.

Deborah Fields of Utah State University’s Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences Department teamed up with fellow researcher Sara Grimes of the Information School at the University of Toronto to report on kids and how they use social media.

Their report was produced for the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, an independent, non-profit research center, with the support of Cisco Systems and the Digital Media and Learning Hub at the University of California.

Since its publication, the study has been featured in the Huffington Post, The Digital ShiftedSurge news and Kidzania Journal. It also appears in the Barking Robot, KQED's Mind Shift and Education Week's Digital Education blogs.

Here's an excerpt from their post on the Joan Gantz Cooney Center blog:

“... [C]hildren tend to be ignored in the big survey research that documents who is going online, how often, and what they are doing. This is partly because children present a challenging audience to reach — what kind of survey can researchers use to talk to children about what they do online (they usually go to parents and it's just easier to talk to teens and young adults). Another factor is that although there's lots of anecdotal and qualitative evidence that kids are using popular social media such as Facebook, legal Terms of Use and regulatory policies like the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act often mean that children are not supposed to be there at all. Another important finding was that large-scale surveys and other research on social networking often overlook the kinds of social networking forums that children tend most to populate. Virtual worlds, console videogames (did you know kids can share creations and chat through videogame consoles?), and project-sharing sites where children share everything from written stories to art to computer-programmed animations are rarely discussed in comparison to social networking sites like Facebook.”

The full text of the study is available on the Cooney Center website.

Contact: Deborah Fields, 435-797-057,

Writer: JoLynne Lyon, USU Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services,   435-797-1463

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