An analysis of 68 randomly selected web logs, maintained by teenagers from age 13 to 17, has revealed the prevalent tendencies of bloggers to provide personal information, thus making them vulnerable to cyber stalking and teasing. David Huffaker, a Northwestern University researcher, involved in the technology and social behavior program, will be presenting the study on Teenage Internet Behavior at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in St. Louis.
Huffaker feels that Blogs contribute to building social connections and is therefore good for the development of teen identity that is in the explorative stage during adolescence. The blogs, equal samples from male and female teens were studied minutely, to reveal that nearly 70 percent opened up with their real names, 61% gave their contact information, some 30% gave the link to their personal home page, and 44% gave their Instant Messenger contact details.
"Studying teen blogs highlights the fact that blogging is not an individual pursuit in the way teen diaries once were. Instead, blogs are used by teens to form a small or large community," says Huffaker.
Teen Blogs have become a forum, to share feelings, thoughts, and experiences. About 50% of the blogs had stories about love affairs, infatuations, sexuality debates and homosexuality opinions. 71% also discussed school topics, homework, grades and stuff along with music preferences.
The negative effects of such blogging patterns cannot be dismissed, exposing teen to bullying and adult teasing. Huffaker gives an example of a study where nearly 2,500 children aged 10 to 17 years have come out with reports of being threatened or harassed online, including sexual innuendos , which has been received by one in five teenagers. Some even had to face phone calls, money, gifts and requests for a date.
In Huffaker's opinion, these blogging negatives can be offset with intelligent software packages that can offer password protection, to gain entry into online dairies that will be open only to close friends.