TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Dec. 26 (UPI) -- Some parents worry children waste time online, texting or playing video games but a U.S. researcher found these activities provide social skills and learning.
Florida State University's Lisa Tripp, a member of a team of researchers who completed an extensive qualitative study on U.S. youth media use, supervised research and data collection at several Los Angeles middle schools that serve primarily low-income Latino youth.
The researchers found that most young people associate with people they already know in their offline lives through school or sports, but cell phones, instant messaging and social network sites such as MySpace and Facebook allow them to be in nearly constant touch.
A smaller number of young people also use the online world to find information they may not have access to and to connect with people who share specialized interests in activities, such as online gaming, creative writing, video editing or other artistic endeavors.
The study found that young people's learning with digital media is often more self-directed, with a freedom and autonomy that is less apparent than in a classroom setting. The researchers said youth respect one another's authority online and they are often more motivated to learn from each other than from adults.
The findings are to be published as part of the book "Hanging Out, Messing Around, Geeking Out: Living and Learning with New Media."