Friday, 2 July 2010

Kids and Digital Media

The prophets of doom are at it again with renewed fervour.

"PHANTOMS" who trawl the internet are the greatest threat to our children, says best-selling author Jilliane Hoffman.

Every so often we encounter horror stories about the corrupting influence these uncontrollable new Digital Media have on today's innocent youth. Fear mongering at it's most exquisite.
Everything Bad is Good for You approaches the taboos associated with the transition to the digital age from a humorous, refreshingly honest, if slightly biased (the author is a devout gamer), perspective but it is  also instructive to have a look at the summary of findings from the Digital Youth project.

"Kids' Informal Learning with Digital Media: An Ethnographic Investigation of Innovative Knowledge Cultures" is a three-year collaborative project funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Carried out by researchers at the University of Southern California and University of California, Berkeley, the digital youth project explores how kids use digital media in their everyday lives
 In their summary they state:

The digital world is creating new opportunities for
youth to grapple with social norms, explore interests,
develop technical skills, and experiment with new forms
of self-expression. These activities have captured teens’
attention because they provide avenues for extending
social worlds, self-directed learning, and independence.
Specifically, they stress:

Most youth use online networks to extend the friendships that they navigate in the familiar contexts of school ...  youth also use the online world to explore interests and find information that goes beyond what they have access to at school or in their local community ... youth may find new peers outside the boundaries of their local community. They can also
find opportunities to publicize and distribute their work to online audiences, and to gain new forms of visibility and reputation. By exploring new interests, tinkering, and “messing around” with new forms of media, they acquire various forms of technical and media literacy.

New media allow for a degree of freedom and autonomy for youth that is less apparent in a classroom setting. Youth respect one another’s authority online, and they are often more motivated to learn from peers than from adults. Their efforts are also largely self-directed,exploration, in contrast to classroom learning that is oriented by set, predefined goals.

Youths’ participation in this networked world suggests new ways of thinking about the role of education.
Why all the doom and gloom?