Making Connections: Adolescent Girls' Use of the Internet

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Virginia Tech

Women remain underrepresented in computer technology careers and university majors, and adolescent girls shy away from high school computer science courses. More information is needed about females who are attracted to computer technology. This study describes the online activities of young adolescent girls ages 12-14 who are high-end users of computer technology. Three developmental tasks of adolescence (search for identity, pursuit of social connections, and desire for a sense of competence and accomplishment) were used to frame explorations of the girls' online activities. Eight girls were interviewed, the personal web sites of six girls were analyzed, and postings on a message board for young girls interested in online activities were reviewed. Patterns and themes that emerged from the data indicated that Internet technology was an effective match for the informants' developmental tasks. Specific inferences included: (1)Online technologies offered the informants multiple ways of negotiating social relationships; (2) Internet use supported the informants' engagement in personalized, self-directed, and self-initiated learning; (3) Support from parents, siblings, and peers provided the environment for each girl to develop confidence and competence in Internet use; and(4) The informants' use of the internet reflected women's ways of knowing.

Confidence, Electronic communications, Gender, Peer relations