The Young and the Digital: What the Migration to Social-network Sites, Games, and Anytime, Anywhere Media Means for Our Future

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Beacon Press, 2009 - Computers - 249 pages
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In 2006, S. Craig Watkins participated in the MacArthur Foundation’s well-funded digital media initiative alongside a select team of scholars and tech experts. The goal was simple: to understand young people’s emphatic embrace of social and mobile media. Watkins went on to build a small research team that skillfully collected over 500 surveys and conducted 350 in-depth interviews with young adults, parents, and educators while visiting the online spaces where young people gather. It was a full-scale immersion into what Watkins calls the “digital trenches,” and when he emerged, his understanding of the ways young people learn, play, bond, and communicate had become more detailed and dynamic.
It may come as no surprise that more teens are online than ever before—in fact 87 percent are. Consequentially, television is no longer the dominant medium it once was because young people are now spending an average of six to eight hours a day online. Watkins contends that most teens and twenty-somethings migrate online to share their lives with friends, something television simply cannot offer. As Melinda, a twenty-one-year-old student, proclaimed, “What do people do without Facebook?” In other words, for young people today, if you’re not online, then you’re not really living—and the ubiquitous presence of their mobile phones, laptops, and iPods positions them at the center of our evolving digital landscape.
Timely and deeply relevant, The Young and the Digital covers a host of provocative issues—the influence of social sites like MySpace and Facebook; the growing appetite for “anytime, anywhere” media and “fast entertainment”; how online “digital gates” reinforce race and class divisions; how technology is transforming America’s classrooms—and takes a fresh look at the pivotal role technology played in the historic 2008 election. Watkins also debunks popular myths surrounding cyberpredators, Internet addiction, and social isolation. The result is a fascinating portrait, both optimistic and cautious, about the coming of age of the first fully wired generation.

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User Review  - jms001 - LibraryThing

Not an entirely bad read. There were some valid points about the growth of technology and how young'uns are completely immersed in the world of technology. Watkins covers various aspects of technology ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - ThorneStaff - LibraryThing

An important book for those who want insight into the GenX and Millenial worlds and their modes of communicating and interacting socially; convinced me that I am a dinosaur (a boomer) who really doesn ... Read full review


The Young and the Digital
Digital Migration
The Very Well Connected
How Race and Class Distinctions Are Shaping the Digital World
The Allure of Social Games Synthetic Worlds and Second Lives
Fast Entertainment and Multitasking in an AlwaysOn World
The Consequences of Anytime Anywhere Technology
What the Young and the Digital Means for Our Political Future
The Making of This Book

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About the author (2009)

S. Craig Watkins writes about youth, media, technology, and society. He is associate professor of radio-TV-film at the University of Texas at Austin and the author of "Hip Hop Matters: Politics, Pop Culture, and the Struggle for the Soul of a Movement" and "Representing: Hip Hop Culture and the Production of Black Cinema."

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