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UIC News Tips
University of Illinois at Chicago Office of Public Affairs (MC 288)
601 S. Morgan St., Chicago, IL 60607-7113, (312) 996-3456, www.uic.edu/depts/paff

September 4, 2001 Contact: Anne Dybek (312) 996-8279; adybek@uic.edu


A new report suggests that the Internet has become an increasingly important learning tool for teenagers - both inside and outside the classroom.

Steve Jones, University of Illinois at Chicago communication professor and department head, was part of a team that collected and interpreted the findings of the report released by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

"The Internet is a tool teenagers are using in and out of the classroom to further their education," said Jones, who is a senior research fellow at the Pew Internet Project. "They rely on it for information and schoolwork, and in many cases use it to communicate with teachers and classmates."

Asked about their most recent major school report, 71 percent of teenagers with Internet access said they relied on Internet sources the most in completing the project. That compares with 24 percent who said they relied on library sources the most.

The report found that 73 percent of middle-school and high-school students ages 12-17, or about 17 million youngsters, have Internet access. A survey of 754 respondents that age who have used the Internet found that:

  • Ninety-four percent use the Internet for school research, while 78 percent said they believe the Internet helps them with schoolwork
  • Forty-one percent use email and instant messaging to contact teachers or classmates about schoolwork
  • Thirty-four percent have downloaded an online study aid.

A survey conducted simultaneously of the youth's parents found:

  • Eighty-seven percent believe that the Internet helps students with their schoolwork
  • Fifty-five percent said the Internet has been a good thing for their children
  • Fifty-five percent believe that knowledge of how to use the Internet is essential for children to learn in order to be successful

There is a darker side to the findings. About one fifth of teens who go online (18 percent) say they know of someone who has used the Internet to cheat on a paper or test.

"It is important that students learn to use the Internet wisely and not think of it merely as a crutch that will do their work for them," cautions Jones.

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