Young individuals are not passive victims of expertise or helpless addicts. They are expertise creators and brokers with numerous backgrounds and pursuits.
When folks hear that I research digital youth tradition, I usually get requested, “Is technology good or bad for kids?” My first wrestle is to reframe the query. The query assumes expertise is one factor, and all youngsters use expertise the identical method. Technology is made and formed by us and we’ve got the ability to make it good or unhealthy. I favor the query, “How can we support young people in harnessing technology for progress?” Young individuals are not passive victims of expertise or helpless addicts. They are expertise creators and brokers with numerous backgrounds and pursuits.
I’ve been researching teenagers’ use of expertise in each Japan and the U.S. for nearly three many years, and have seen comparable intergenerational dynamics play out with each new wave of expertise that teenagers undertake and make their very own. Adults fear, teenagers experiment and undertake new methods of utilizing expertise, and ultimately, adults begin embracing digital tradition teenagers created.
We rejoice tech titans who began their empires whereas nonetheless in faculty. What will get much less appreciation are on a regular basis examples of younger folks around the globe harnessing expertise in revolutionary, self-actualizing, and progressive methods. The optimism and creativity of youth is like photo voltaic power – continually renewed, and largely untapped. If we are able to acknowledge their numerous wants and strengths, we are able to assist youth as innovators, learners, and alter makers.
In the late nineties, I sat on subways and wandered the streets of Tokyo observing how teenagers had been utilizing cell phones. My analysis group at Keio University gathered detailed logs of textual content message and voice communications of highschool college students. They shared insights about how they used textual content messages, emoji, digicam telephones, and the cell Internet. The remainder of the world was skeptical that the cell Internet would take off past Japan. It could be nearly a decade earlier than textual content messaging was widespread within the US. I by no means would have dreamed that folks of all ages around the globe could be speaking with emoji and smartphone photographs 20 years later.
Back then, older people would shake their heads after they noticed teenagers strolling whereas texting. They labelled them nagara zoku (the multitasking tribe) and oyayubi zoku (thumb tribe). Mobile telephones within the palms of teenagers grew to become an emblem of the decline of tradition and social norms. Teens, then again, had been aggravated by adults who did not put their cellphone on silent mode and fumbled by their pockets whereas it rang. Ever since road good highschool women used pagers to ship textual content messages to one another within the early nineties, Japanese teenagers had been innovating in cell communication. Japanese cellphone suppliers capitalized on these teen improvements by creating new applied sciences together with diversified texting companies, emoji, digicam telephones, and the cell Internet.
Teens additionally created new social norms as they took to new expertise. For instance, they discovered the older observe of putting a voice name unannounced to be invasive. They shortly developed a brand new social norm to “knock before entering.” When they needed to speak, they might ship a textual content message first to verify availability. Their pal is perhaps on public transit, in school, or another setting the place a voice name can be disruptive. They acknowledged that simply choosing up the cellphone and calling somebody when it was handy for the caller was thoughtless to the particular person receiving the decision.
When younger individuals are experimenting, mobilizing, and innovating, they’re additionally studying and creating new expertise. When my daughter was in center college and highschool, she was concerned in on-line fandoms for some widespread bands. She took to social media and running a blog to attach with fellow followers, and shortly amassed followers. During a very busy week of faculty, we had been drawback fixing collectively about how one can handle time. “I think I should take a week off of blogging,” she recommended whereas I nodded. When I checked in on her a number of hours later I noticed her on her weblog, and began in on a mild scolding. “Mom,” she interrupted, with a sigh, “I’m queuing up the posts so I don’t lose followers during the week I take off.” Somehow, she had turn into more proficient at social media administration than her mother who fancies herself a digitally fluent public mental.
These sorts of communication and networking expertise are simply certainly one of many competencies that younger folks acquire by interest-driven and socially linked studying with expertise. We name this “connected learning” when younger individuals are studying as a by-product of geeking-out, creating, and organizing along with fellow fanatics. Whether it’s fan fiction writers creating new narratives collectively, avid gamers strategizing and sharing suggestions, or dancers sharing and studying from on-line video, on-line affinity teams proceed to gasoline studying in methods which can be social and passion-driven.
When younger individuals are studying and organizing collectively on-line, it’s not all enjoyable and video games. Their digital expertise have fueled world-changing social actions. In faculty, my daughter went on to hitch the Percentage Project, which makes use of social media to lift consciousness concerning the expertise of underrepresented teams in pc science applications. She additionally helped begin a web based video sequence, Decrypted By Us, highlighting the experience and views of girls and minorities in tech. After the college shootings at Stoneman Douglas High School, we noticed a multi-racial coalition of teenagers gasoline the March for Our Lives motion. Adults had been shocked by their media savvy, and their snappy comebacks at politicians and detractors on social media. Young folks wielding social and cell media have been on the coronary heart of so many progressive actions — whether or not it’s Black Lives Matter, Dreamers, or local weather activism.
These progressive makes use of of expertise don’t simply occur on their very own. Behind all of those optimistic examples are highly effective platforms that allow them to attach, create, and talk. Also important are the caring adults, organizations, and coalitions which have given younger folks the house and assist to amplify their optimism and progressive potential.
Many years in the past, I co-founded a nonprofit, Connected Camps, that’s devoted to supporting faculty college students to mentor kids by widespread digital gaming platforms. We are simply certainly one of a rising legion of organizations supporting youth management in making optimistic change. We consider that mentorship centered round shared causes and pursuits can change lives and the world. Whether you’re a mum or dad, an educator, an employer, or a fellow fanatic, all of us have a task to play in nurturing the ability and potential of younger folks.
Dr. Mimi Ito, cultural anthropologist, Director of the Connected Learning Lab on the University of California, Irvine