As a woman working in the field of e-communications and technology, I am always giddy when surveys highlight the growing presence of women on the Web.
Back in July, we learned how women are contributing to and advancing the collaborative Web. And we're always spreading the word about geeky girl stuff. Now, a recent report by the Pew Internet and American Life Project indicates that adolescent girls are finding their groove online as well.
The report shows that "teenage girls are more likely than boys to have engaged in creating most kinds of online content." Blogs, specifically, are their venue of choice with 35 percent of teenage girls having created a blog compared to only 20 percent of boys.
Although boys post more video content online than girls, the survey indicates that "content creation is not just about sharing creative output," but initiating and participating in discussions generated by the content they create. While girls are more likely to post photos online than boys are, it seems that they "do not simply plaster their creative endeavors on the Web for anyone to view" as many limit access to friends.
The report not only indicates the impact of social media on gender, but also on socio-economic status as well. Teenagers from single-parent households are more likely to start a blog than teenagers living with married parents. In addition, those in lower-income houses are more likely to blog than those in families with higher-income brackets.
As we enter 2008 we can use these findings to understand how to better communicate with the adolescent lot (it isn't by email), as well as to hone and encourage their participation in online social media. From parents to educators to those of us who work to develop and design these online technologies, we long for access into their complex brains.
Rather than censoring or limiting their access to social media, we must accept that the use of social media is gaining "a greater foothold in teen life as they embrace the conversational nature of interactive online media."
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