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The kids received home computers and free Internet access for nearly a year and a half.The researchers checked the kids' grades and test scores before and after the study.
Web sites don't usually involve math, and math scores didn't change in the study.He studied 322 elementary and middle-school kids in New England.The students answered questions about the Internet's technical and social complexity, including: In terms of understanding the Internet, kids' age was more important than gender, history of Internet use, frequency of Internet use, and participation in informal classes, Yan found.However, the researchers also voiced concern that some content on the boards might reinforce or promote self-harm.A larger, longer study would help, the researchers note.When membership information was available, most members claimed to be young women in their teens and 20s.
Over two months, the researchers studied more than 3,200 postings on the message boards.
"Across the globe, young people try to obtain information about health, especially sexual health," write the researchers, who included Dina Borzekowski, Ed D, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
"Nothing will or should replace interactions with health providers, but easily accessible, understandable, credible, and confidential information can improve the lives and choices of young people," the researchers write.
Meanwhile, they "Age matters" in how well kids understand the Internet, writes Zheng Yan, Ed D.
Yan is an assistant professor at the University of Albany's School of Education.
He suggests using highly restricted filtering programs and kid-oriented sites for very young kids, with less restrictive filters for older children.