We are discovering our “latent humanity” by how we share and communicate on the Internet

By Ross Dawson on December 20, 2007 | Permalink

The latest Teens and Social Media report from Pew/Internet gives some great insights into how teens aged 12-17 are using the Internet.

There are a host of great insights in the report, including:

* 64% of online teens aged 12-17 have created content on the Internet, up from 57% at the end of 2004 (this is 59% of all teens, as 7% are not on the Internet)
* 35% of teen girls write a blog, compared to 20% of boys
* 19% of teen boys upload videos, compared to 10% of girls
* 70% of 15-17 year old girls have used an online social network, compared to 54% of boys
* 89% of teens who post photos online say they get comments
* 79% of teens restrict access to their photos in some way, compared to 61% of adults
* Email is the least popular communication form among teens, with just 14% saying they email their friends every day

The fact that close to two-thirds of teens create and share content on the Internet underlines the fact that we are moving into the Participative Age. In fact close to a quarter of over-65 years olds also create content on the Internet, however generational change will see a world in which we take it for granted that we all create and share in some form.

The gender differences (which Elinor Mills summarizes as Girls blog, boys post video), are intruiging. Moving forward, we will undoubtedly discover further differences in how girls and boys, women and men, engage socially. As our social media change, we learn more about ourselves.

The fact that teens consistently restrict access to online photos shows the lessons have largely been already learned. In the last months in particular, every media outlet from CNN to Dolly to Madison has screamed about the potential impact of allowing everyone to see your social life. Teens are savvy and learn quickyl.

Email is for old people – that’s become clear by now. In organizations as well as in social life, we are seeking how we will move beyond email.

I have always thought that new communications technologies are allowing us to discover more of our humanity. When we only had a few communication channels, including mail and telephone, only part of our social propensities were visible. Now we have a vast and ever-increasing array of ways of engaging socially, we are discovering our “latent humanity” – what is completely intrinsic to who we are, yet we were not able to see until it could be expressed with these new social media. People used to think of technology as dehumanizing. I believe the opposite – that is humanizes us by uncovering more of who we are, more of our potential to relate to other humans.

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