Teens are among the most creative users of technology, in part because they don’t share adults’ assumptions about how things are supposed to work.
Only 6% of teens exchange email daily, according to the Pew Research Center; they reserve email for official communications, or for venues like school where their preferred methods are not allowed. Incredibly, 91% of today’s teens post a photo of themselves on social media sites, also according to Pew.
The Internet is like a big public square. But it also has neighborhoods where you gather with friends and just hang out. That’s one reason playing the online game Minecraft has caught on like wildfire among teens, particularly with middle schoolers, whose age limits their ability to gather in the real world.
The reason teens are such avid early adopters isn’t that they have an innate knowledge of tech – it’s that they aren’t afraid to break it. Teens think, “How can I test and experiment and bend this thing to my will, and make it do what I want?” says Pew Research Center’s Amanda Lenhart, who studies how youths use tech.
The lesson: Experimentation is just as important as instructions, and don’t despair if you don’t have instant competence. Talk about new technology with your friends. When all else fails, flag down a teenager – you’d be surprised what you can learn.
About the Author
Susan is a “beach” girl at heart. She has a degree in Child Development and Sociology from Albion College and is a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan, even when they’re losing!