Australian and New Zealand Communication Association
Faculty of Education and Arts
School of Communication and Arts/Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts, Technology, Education and Communications
Using a metaphor borrowed from the biological sciences, this paper discusses a ‘natural history’ of Internet use. As ‘digital natives’ many of today’s teenagers and young people have grown up and matured interacting with the Internet from an early age. Research about young people’s Internet use tends, however, to focus on the protection of minors. Young people, 16 years or older, are often excluded from noncommercial research about how young people grow into more mature patterns of Internet use. This paper highlights how parents with teenagers are building dynamic models of their children’s engagement with the Internet as they mature. Parents reported changes in the level of their children’s Internet use as they age and they envisage further changes as their children mature. We also identify the variety of ways in which parents support their children’s developing Internet skills that anticipate and respond to Internet risks and excessive Internet use.