A survey by Intersperience studied around 1,000 British internet users under 18, and found kids online are divided into three distinct types of personalities.
The research is part of the “Digital Futures” project intended to study how technology affected the lives of minors. The methodology consisted of interviews and field research of how kids actually used technology.
“Children and teens generally view the online world as an 'always-on' virtual playground and a constant companion that stays with them wherever they go,” said Paul Hudson, CEO of Intersperience. “However, when you analyze what under-18s actually do online, distinct behavioral trends emerge which influence the sites they gravitate to, how comfortable they are online and whether they are likely to make new online friends."
The first personality type is the “Gadget Geek.” They make up 25 percent of the Internet population under 18. They’re “the most proficient Internet users, highly enthusiastic about the online world, excited by new technology gadgets and they expect to be able to access the Internet wherever they go.”
The population is mostly male, with boys comprising 56 percent of the personality. Most of them are aged 12 to 17, and generally don’t make new friends online so much as they interact heavily with communities they’re already involved in.
Then there are the “Confident Entertainers,” who are very much into casual online games but are less concerned with the underlying technology than having fun with it. They’re the biggest group in the survey, comprising 31 percent of internet users under 18.
The third category is “Socialites,” who, as the name suggests, love chatting online. In contrast to the Gadget Geeks, girls outnumber boys in this area by 57 percent. Most of them are younger as well, 77 percent ranging from ages 8 to 14.
The remainder in the survey were classified as “E-Beginners,” kids who were excited about the internet but didn’t know exactly how to use it. Many of them were younger kids whose parents limited the time they could spend online.
Whatever category they ended up in, all participants said the web was an important part of their lives and had strong emotional attachments to it. 73 percent of Gadget Geeks said they would be sad if the internet disappeared.
The survey also found that parents were concerned about safety, monitoring their children’s internet use either by knowing their kids’ social networking passwords (a significant number of Facebook (News - Alert) users in the survey were under 13, violating Facebook’s age limit) or monitoring internet usage.
Edited by Braden Becker