I have just read Leila Torgeresen's report Ungdoms digitale hverdag
(pdf) (The digital everyday life of youth
: contains a brief English summary of the survey), which is part of the "Digital Childhood" project at NOVA
(Norwegian Social Research). The analysis is based on a survey of 12 000 youths in the age 13-19 years old. Basic research questions concerned possible relations between user patterns of computer/Internet/vide-games and offline social relations, grades at school, offline lifestyles (with a focus on conceived problematic aspects such as drinking, sexual experience and violent behaviour) and depression. Important background variables were gender, age, educational levels of parents and ethnicity. I would have hoped for a more explicit emphasis of the connection between online and offline. Some of the correlations she found would certainly make more sense then: Playing violent computer games is correlated with violent behaviour; use of cmc is correlated with extensive social networks (offline) and to a certain degree a lifestyle more strongly characterised by alcohol and sexual experiences; computer experience is correlated with better school grades (but obviously in relation to the specific use of computers). However she frequently underlines that the causal relations may very well be, and probably in many cases are, the other way around. Youth with extensive social networks make use of CMC; youth with a tendency to use violent turn to violent video-games (together with the rest of their friends, but who do not necessarily become violent by playing); eager pupils make use of the computer and the Internet in school-related projects. Anyway, reading the project made me very aware of the importance of more qualitative methods to explain the why's and how's. Torgersen's findings are interesting, but more than anything confirms with numbers what I already suspected. The numbers do not explain anything.
had several articles based on Torgersen's findings: "The computer does not steal time from friends", "More sex and alcohol among extreme-chatters", "One out of three have meet new people online".