Are youth aware of technology’s pitfalls and benefits? CIRA funded the latest research from MediaSmarts, here’s some of the findings.
By Samantha McAleese, research associate at MediaSmarts and David Fowler, vice-president, marketing and communications at CIRA.
If you’re a parent, it might feel like your kids are on a new app or platform like TikTok every other week. By the time you’ve wrapped your head around all the privacy and safety concerns of one app, they’re already on to the next.
Trying to keep up with young people’s online activities is not a new challenge –organizations like MediaSmarts have been researching how youth interact with the internet and technology since 2000. But what has changed the most over the years?
MediaSmarts’ latest report, Talking to Youth and Parents about Online Resiliency funded by CIRA, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, outlines findings from focus groups with youth and parents. Some adults might be surprised by how deeply aware youth are of both the pitfalls and benefits of technology use. Young people, often referred to as ‘digital natives,’ are savvy and connected, but navigating the ever-changing digital landscape remains tricky for them at times and they need support and guidance from the adults in their lives.
Our research shows that there are countless ways in which the internet has changed how young people behave, which can be grouped into three broad themes identified in our latest report:
Todays’ youth share the same concerns as their parents about overuse or being ‘too distracted’ by digital technology.
That said, parents felt their kids lacked the self-control to limit their own screen time and set strict rules in place to mitigate this. Disagreements between youth and adults about these rules are a frequent source of frustration (which you’re probably very familiar with if you have a teen in the house).
Young people are pushing back against stereotypes about how they use digital technology.
While adults worry that screens are replacing face-to-face interactions, what we heard from youth was quite the opposite: they acknowledge that social media makes it easier to keep in touch and share interesting or funny content with friends, but many use apps and online platforms as a way to make plans to meet and spend time with their peers in person.