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New Research Study to Examine Teens’ Online Behavior

Pew Research Center and Family Online Safety Institute will conduct research focused on teenagers’ online activities and digital citizenship

WASHINGTON, D.C. – November 16, 2010. The Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) and the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project have agreed to conduct a research project aimed at understanding teenagers’ behavior online. The research will examine how this behavior ties to digital citizenship – the behaviors, expectations and skills teens have around interacting with others in digital spaces. The research is jointly funded by the Pew Internet Project and Cable in the Classroom.

The study will look at teens’ online skills and their comfort level with using technology. It will examine teens’ pro-social and anti-social behaviors, ranging from the creation of support groups to cyber bullying and cyber harassment in online spaces. A better understanding of these different dimensions of digital citizenship will help parents, educators, policymakers and industry leaders determine ways to help teens maintain a safe online environment.

“The notion of digital citizenship is a hugely important umbrella topic that has the potential to speak to concerns around cyberbullying, sexting, flaming and other online behaviors,” said Amanda Lenhart, the Pew Internet Project’s lead analyst on teens and families and the leader of the research study. “Our goal is to examine teens’ own views about what digital citizenship entails and the kinds of responsibilities they think they need to assume.”

The Pew Internet Project, a non-profit, non-partisan “fact tank” that studies how Americans use technology, will field a national phone survey of teens – on landlines and cell phones – as well as in-depth, qualitative interviews to understand the broad concept of digital citizenship. The survey will cover topics such as the types of positive and negative experiences teens have online; how teens know how to behave, react or interact in online spaces; and the types of skills that teens employ in coping with negative online experiences.

The Family Online Safety Institute is an international non-profit organization dedicated to making the online world safer for kids and families and has partnered with the Pew Internet Project to conduct the study. “Our partnership with the Pew Internet Project and Cable in the Classroom is an exciting step forward for the online safety movement,” said Stephen Balkam, CEO of FOSI. “While there are a number of ways in which the Internet can improve teens’ lives, teens are also exposed to many new and unexpected challenges online. This research will provide us with reliable data that we hope will inform continuing discussions over these issues.”

“Wonderful things and bad things can happen in digital spaces, but we don’t yet have a good idea of which things happen most often and what impact they have,” said Frank Gallagher, Executive Director of Cable in the Classroom. “Right now, debates on this subject are dominated by anecdotes and guesswork. We hope this research will provide baseline data that everyone in this urgent national conversation can use.”

The study will begin in November 2010 and results are expected in November 2011.

Pew Internet logo

About the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project

The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project is one of seven projects that make up the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan, nonprofit “fact tank” that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. The Project produces reports exploring the impact of the Internet on families, communities, work and home, daily life, education, health care, and civic and political life. The Project aims to be an authoritative source on the evolution of the Internet through surveys that examine how Americans use the Internet and how their activities affect their lives.

Family Online Safety Institute

About the Family Online Safety Institute

The Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) works to make the online world safer for kids and their families by identifying and promoting best practices, tools and methods that also respect free speech. FOSI’s members include: AOL, AT&T, Blue Coat Systems, BT Retail, Comcast, , Disney, Entertainment Software Association, France Telecom, Google, GSM Association, Kingston Communications, Loopt, Microsoft, Motion Picture Association of America, MySpace, NCTA, Ning, Nominum, Optenet, RuleSpace, Sprint, StreamShield, Symantec, Telefónica, TELMEX, USTelecom, The Wireless Foundation, Verizon, Yahoo. FOSI hosts an annual international conference to bring together Internet safety advocates from a variety of sectors, including global corporations, government, non-profits, academia and the media, to discuss the current pulse of online safety and emerging solutions that will enhance it. For more information, please visit

Cable in the Classroom

About Cable in the Classroom

Cable in the Classroom (CIC), the national education foundation of the U.S. cable industry, advocates digital citizenship and the visionary, sensible, and effective use of cable’s broadband technology, services, and content in teaching and learning.  Since 1989, CIC has also supported the complimentary provision, by cable companies and programmers, of broadband and multichannel video services and educational content to the nation’s schools.

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