By Greg Klein

   After reviewing Tapscott’s material, our team was interested in investigating some of his claims.  We felt that two categories in particular merited further research. 

  • Tapscott presents a very idealized view of the N-generation and the extent to which computer technology dominates their lives.  "What do kids do with computer?" Tapscott answers, "Almost everything." (Tapscott, 4)
  • Tapscott also downplays the role of gender differences among today’s youth with respect to their use of computers.

     We were primarily concerned with whether or not these fairly radical assertions were true.  In order to quantify their validity, we created a survey designed to focus on these areas.   


Methods

 

     Surveys were administered to students at two separate Public schools—Woodland Middle School in Kenton Co., Kentucky and Covedale Elementary in Hamilton Co., Ohio.  148 surveys were returned with an approximately equal male to female ratio (49% to 51%).  Students, ages 9-15, were surveyed in an attempt to quantify the questions and concerns that were mentioned above.  A copy of the survey is available for download 

The following is a synopsis of our intentions for each question. 

  • Questions about the availability of computer and internet service were asked to establish accessibility.  This serves to measure the widespread integration of the technology.
  • Questions of availability also provide a standard by which to measure gender differences.  That is, it would be unfair to compare the genders if availability was not roughly the same.
  • Questions concentrating on the location of computer usage were used to assess the pervasiveness of computer technology. 
  • Questions dealing with internet activities were also used to measure a child’s exposure to different on-line experiences. 
  • Questions gauging computer and internet usage in a week were used primarily to measure gender differences.  However, data combining both genders was also gathered to gauge general usage tendencies.

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Results

Prevalence 

     The following graphs illustrate the myriad of places the computer is used and activities that it is used for. 

     Computers were used extensively in every category but Job.  Computers were most often used at home (85%) with school (69%) and library (67%).  The amount of students using a computer at the library was somewhat refreshing, since it at least meant students were still using the library


     

     The Computer was used extensively for all manners of activities.  As expected, games (91%) were overwhelmingly the primary use of the computer.  However, schoolwork was at a not too distant second with 78%.


      

Finally the internet was used significantly in all categories with fun and games being the highest category (75%).

   

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Gender Differences

     As can be seen in the tables below, there was very little gender difference in computer and internet availability.  Therefore on can fairly apply gender differences for other categories.
 
     There was a significant difference between males and females in both computer and WWW use. 
 

 

Male

Female

Computer at Home

90%

80%

Internet at Home

66%

65%

Computer Use in One Week

9 Times

6 Times

WWW Use in  
One Week

5 Times

3 Times

 

     There was not, however, any significant difference between e-mail and chat room use between males and females.
 

 

Male

Female

Computer at Home

90%

80%

Internet at Home

66%

65%

Email in One Week

3 Times

3 Times

Chat Rooms in One Week

2 Times

2 Times

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What Does it All Mean?  
 

Pervasiveness 

     These findings accurately reflect Tapscott’s assertion that children are familiar with and frequently exposed to many types of computer technology.  Children are so familiar, in fact, that 27% claimed to have used a computer for the purpose of programming.   
      
Gender Differences 
 
     Tapscott underestimates the gender gap.  Boys use the computer and the internet at least 50% more then girls.  Also, there was no single category that girls used more then boys. 

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All images used on these pages were either created by the group or are licensed Clipart.
This project was produced for Psy 380, Social Psychology of Cyberspace, Spring 1999,  at Miami University.

Social Psychology / Miami University (Ohio USA). Last revised: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 17:34:51.   This document has been accessed 1  times since 1 May 1999. Comments & Questions to R. Sherman