Study of teen 'Net use
aided by Elon groups


A new study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project on Internet use by teenagers includes data from focus groups at Elon University. The Elon work was coordinated by School of Communications faculty members Kelli Burns and Janna Quitney Anderson.

Amanda Lenhart, one of the three authors of the Pew study, came to Elon in summer 2004 to conduct two focus groups that helped establish the issues the survey addressed. Among the teens participating were the children of several faculty members. School of Communications faculty member Burns and student Lindsay Porter '05 assisted with the focus-group work at Elon.

Participants were audio or video taped, and a short online survey was administered to each student prior to session. Additional focus groups were conducted at other locations in the United States. Ages ranged from 11 to 17; 66 percent of the participants were boys and 34 percent were girls.

This research piece continues Elon's partnership with the Pew Internet & American Life Project. A major study about the future of the Internet conducted by the School of Communications and Pew can be found at:

Click on the link below to download a copy of the Pew study related to use of the Internet by teenagers:

And here's an excerpt from a wire report on the teen study:

Teens Using Internet in Record Numbers
By Martha Irvine, AP National Writer

A new survey says that the Internet has all but saturated the youth market. The report compiled for the Pew Internet &American Life Project found that nearly nine out of 10 young people ages 12 through 17 have online access - up from about three-quarters of young people in 2000. By comparison, about 66 percent of American adults now use the Internet.

David Pulliam, a 17-year-old high school senior from Indianapolis, is a typical example of a wired teen. He first got access to the Internet when he was 13, as did most of those who were surveyed. He has a blog and loves to use instant messaging to stay in touch with friends he's met at camps and sporting events. He also gets his news online, as do about three-quarters of teen Internet users who were surveyed. That's an increase of about 38 percent, compared with 2000 results.

"It's hard to imagine my life without it," Pulliam says of the Net. "In some ways, life would become a little easier because it would slow down. But it would become a lot more boring and hard because you would always be waiting for letters and responses." At the same time, he says he and his friends also have honed their Internet use - seeing it more as a tool for communication or research than "a novelty."

Amanda Lenhart, a Pew researcher, says that rings true with the findings of the survey. "Teens are very selective - they're smart about their technology use," she says. "They use it for the kinds of things they need to do."

The survey, completed in late 2004, included responses from 1,100 young people who were contacted randomly by phone. It has a margin of error of four percentage points. Its findings included the following:

- Of those surveyed, 87 percent said they use the Internet. About half of the young people who have online access say they go on the Internet every day, up from 42 percent in 2000.

- Three-quarters of wired teens use instant message, compared with 42 percent of online adults who do so. Teens most often reserve IMing for friends and e-mail for adults, including parents and teachers.

- About half of families with teens who have an Internet connection have speedier broadband access, while the other half still use phone lines to connect.

- Nearly a third of teens who use IM have used it to send a music or video file.

- While 45 percent of those surveyed have cell phones, those phones aren't necessarily the preferred mode of communication. Given a choice, about half of online teens still use land lines to call friends, while about a quarter prefer IMing and 12 percent say they'd rather call a friend on a cell phone.

- Older teen girls who were surveyed, ages 15 to 17, are among the most intense users of the Internet and cell phones, including text messaging.

"It debunks the myth of the tech-savvy boy," Lenhart says. As young people get Internet access at younger ages, that trend may only continue.



Share your news and items of interest. To contact us, e-mail:
School of Communications 
2850 Campus Box 
Elon, NC 27244-2010   (336) 278-5724 
Last Modified:  8/04/05
Copyright Elon University