[Air-l] Fwd: New CME Teens Online Study

Nancy Baym nbaym at ku.edu
Wed Dec 12 17:53:28 PST 2001

>FOR RELEASE: December  12, 2001
>Report available at: http://www.cme.org/teenstudy/
>CONTACT:  Ellen O'Brien or Sharon Flynn - CME
>(202) 331-7833
>From Sales Pitches to Civics Lessons: Something for Everyone Online
>New CME Study Explores the Online World of Teens
>Washington, D.C. -- The Center for Media Education (CME) today released
>a new study that surveys the burgeoning new-media culture directed
>at--and in some cases created by--teens. TeenSites.com-A Field Guide to
>the New Digital Landscape examines the uniquely interactive nature of
>the new media, and explores the ways in which teens are at once shaping
>and being shaped by the electronic culture that surrounds them.
>With nearly three-quarters of 12- to 17-year-olds online, the Internet
>is having a profound and far-reaching impact on the lives of today's
>youth.  "Young people are as comfortable growing up with digital media
>as their parents' generation was with the telephone and TV," explained
>Kathryn Montgomery, Ph.D., president of the Center for Media Education.
>The book-length report examines this online teen world, from the glitzy
>commercial sites designed by marketers to capture the lucrative online
>teen demographic, to civic youth sites that promote political, cultural,
>and community engagement.  And with an eye toward the future of the new
>media, the report also looks at some of the next-generation technology
>that is transforming the digital landscape.
>But for the teens themselves, the impact of the new technology is often
>much more immediate.  As they grappled with the September 11 attacks,
>for example, many teens turned to the Internet as a forum in which to
>sort out the facts--and to share their feelings.  "For many teens the
>Web surpassed television as the medium of choice in dealing with this
>crisis," Montgomery pointed out.  "Within this unfiltered space, young
>people could speak out in their own online communities and join with
>others in their struggle to make sense of the suddenness and severity of
>this national tragedy."
>In many ways young people are the defining users of this new digital
>media culture. "Teenagers have embraced the new online world with great
>enthusiasm," Montgomery explained, "responding eagerly to its invitation
>to share ideas, contribute content, and otherwise place their stamp on a
>media system that they themselves create and manage.   However, even as
>this new medium is becoming a pervasive presence in teens' lives, it
>remains largely under the radar of parents, scholars, and policymakers."
>Thus Teensites.com is designed to shed light on the new digital media
>culture, which is often overshadowed by sensational stories about the
>alleged dangers of cyberspace, or about the rise and fall of various
>dot-com empires.  But Internet usage continues to grow, and young people
>are at the center of that revolution.  "How today's young people consume
>and participate in new media," explained Montgomery, "will help
>determine the future shape and direction of the media system."
>Among its findings, the study highlights the following aspects of the
>new media culture:
>*  The economic underpinnings of the teen Web sites--advertising,
>e-commerce, market research, and data collection.
>*  The prospects for a teen "civic culture" that subordinates profits to
>public service.
>*  An assessment of future directions in the new media as the Internet
>reaches further into everyone's life through a variety of wired and
>wireless devices.
>"Conducting a study of such a volatile industry was not without its
>challenges," Montgomery explained.  "During the period when we were
>researching the online marketplace, the dot-com crash claimed a number
>of casualties, including some of the teen sites we were examining.  Even
>as the final report was in production, several of the sites we wrote
>about closed, and there were further consolidations in the online teen
>market," she added.  "But these stops and starts in the dot-com business
>should not divert our attention from the inexorable movement of digital
>media into the lives of teens."
>In its new study CME calls for academic researchers to look more closely
>at the impact of new media on youth.  "Much of what is known about how
>teens are interacting with the new digital media," the report notes, "is
>confined to the proprietary domain of market research, which is either
>completely off-limits to outsiders or priced so prohibitively as to be
>inaccessible to the public."  CME also points to a combination of
>government policy, responsible industry self-regulation, public
>education, and citizen activism as the best means of realizing the full
>potential of the digital revolution.
>The study makes a number of recommendations for policymakers, industry,
>scholars, health professionals, and parents, including calls for the
>* Research on new media and teens, especially policy-relevant, focused
>research that addresses specific issues and needs, and which is broadly
>disseminated in a much more timely fashion than is the norm for most
>academic studies.
>* Consumer protection policies ensuring that teens are not taken unfair
>advantage of in the new-media marketplace, either through deceptive
>marketing or exploitative advertising practices.
>* Policies that ensure equitable access, not simply to the most basic
>Internet services, but also to the emerging broadband environment that
>will bring increasing amounts of multimedia resources into homes and
>Support for a quality civic media culture, one that serves teens not
>simply as consumers, but also as citizens, with a robust array of civic
>content and opportunities for teens themselves to contribute to a new
>"electronic commons."
>The full study, Teensites.com-A Field Guide to the New Digital
>Landscape, is available at http://www.cme.org/teenstudy/
>The Center for Media Education (CME) is a national nonprofit,
>nonpartisan organization dedicated to creating a quality electronic
>media culture for children and youth.  CME's cutting-edge studies on the
>new-media marketplace have had major impacts on a number of key public
>policy decisions during the past decade.  Its documentation of online
>marketing and data collection practices targeted at children established
>the groundwork for the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
>CME's Research and Public Education Initiative on New Media, Children
>and Youth is designed to stimulate research on digital media and serve
>as a clearinghouse of research and policy developments for academics,
>industry, the public, and policymakers.  The organization's current
>research and public education project, "Youth as E-Citizens: The
>Internet and Youth Civic Engagement," will help ensure that the Internet
>serves young people as a bridge to community and civic engagement.
>Ellen O'Brien					eobrien at CME.org
>Communications Director				http://www.CME.org
>Center for Media Education (CME)
>2120 L St., NW, Suite 200 			202/331-7833, ext. 31
>Washington, DC 20037				fax:  202/331-7841
Nancy Baym
nbaym at ku.edu
Communication Studies, University of Kansas
102 Bailey, 1440 Jayhawk Blvd., Lawrence, KS 66045, USA
Association of Internet Researchers: http://aoir.org

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