Amanda Lenhart: An Analytical Take on Youth, Social Networking, and Web 2.0

Amanda Lenhart, senior research specialist at the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, talks about her research in a recent interview for the DMLcentral Newsletter. Lenhart and her team focus on teens, social networking, and web 2.0, and have released several reports of great interest to the digital media and learning community.

In the interview, Lenhart discusses her findings on how teens approach online privacy in social networks.

Teens are very much about curating an image of themselves to present to the world, and social media is a really wonderful space to do that. I think youth absolutely care about their privacy and take steps to protect it — whether that’s the 62% of teens who have their profiles set to private so only their friends can see their content or the 55% of online teens who have decided not to publish content that might reflect poorly on them in the future.

However, she goes on to say,

We have also learned from our focus groups that some youth feel pressure to add people to their social media network, and as a result, it becomes almost a reproduction of their school. They feel like it is mean to not friend someone so they will accept any request even if they only know the person vaguely. So it is important to remember that some youth have created networks that are not that private at all.

Also of interest is her discussion about the sources teens turn to for guidance in online citizenship, bringing to mind the principles of connected learning.

Teens acknowledge that they are receiving advice about how to be good citizens of the internet from a range of sources. There are many people in teens’ lives who have great potential and do make an impact. I think that is so very important, and I really love this idea of looking at the whole child across his/her whole life and making sure he/she is nurtured and taught and escorted through the technological difficulties of adolescence by a large variety of people.

Read the complete interview (from the DMLCentral Newsletter).