February 21, 2011

ARTICLES: Internet's effect on youth positive, researchers say

Despite alarmist reports on cyberbullying, sexual misdeeds and real-life social isolation, the Internet is really an important training ground for adolescents to build their identities and learn crucial social skills that can strengthen their real-life relationships, according to a new review of the research to date.

After several years of intensive academic research on adolescents and electronic media, it's now possible to get a "metaview" of how the Internet shapes the self-identity, relationships and sexuality of young people, says Patti Valkenburg, a professor at the University of Amsterdam's Center for Research on Children, Adolescents and the Media.

The results are largely encouraging -- with a few caveats.

"With every new media, there's always panic," she said. "For most adolescents, it's still positive, but not when it's used too much. They can get easy access to everything, but there are dangers on the Internet, just like in our daily lives."

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