FOR THE WEEK OF MAR. 17, 2008
Online gender gap separates girls (No. 1) from boys in three areas
Virtually all newspapers have blogs by staff members and sometimes outsiders on their websites. Ask young readers to name one or more they look at and to tell what they enjoy.
Ask blog creators or online forum contributors in the class if they've posted comments on a news, entertainment or sports topic related to something from the paper. As an exercise, challenge students to find an article, column or photo worth sharing with online friends.
Discuss whether information read on personal blogs is usable for research projects or other schoolwork. How about the newspaper as a reference tool? Ask what's different about the sources.
The Internet originally attracted mainly male users when it was new in the 1990s, but that era is as over as a band called New Kids on the Block (ask your parents). Young women now make the online world their own in a big way, new research shows.
Among students aged 12-17, significantly more girls have blogs, personal websites and social network pages that get tweaked often. A recent study by the Pew Internet Project in America titled "Teens and Social Media" found that blogging growth among students aged 12-17 is fueled almost entirely by girls, including some it calls a new breed of "super-communicators."
Thirty-five percent of girls and just 20 percent boys have blogs, shows the nationwide survey of 935 youths 12-17. Thirty-two percent of girls have personal websites, versus 22 percent of boys. And in the social networking world, 70 percent of U.S. girls aged 15-17 have built and regularly update a profile page on MySpace or Facebook -- compared with 57 percent of boys their age.
Blogs spread: 28 percent of online teens have created their own blog, up from 19 percent in 2004 - a jump almost completely driven by the popularity of blogging among girls.
Researcher says: "The Internet is a very expressive medium and you're looking at times in a girl's life when they are very socially expressive. The Internet, and social networking particularly, enables that need." -- John Horrigan, Pew Internet Project
Online risks: Half of U.S. teens have posted their pictures online, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Seventy-one percent of teens report getting messages online from a stranger.
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