Following in the line of research carried out in the mid 1990’s by Don Tapscott and in the early 2000’s by Diana and James Oblinger, the latest Digital Youth Research Report is the result of a three-year join research project by the University of Southern California and the University of California, Berkeley, involving 28 researchers and research collaborators, and represents a synthesis of the findings across 22 different case studies.
Over three years, University of California, Irvine researcher Mizuko Ito and her team interviewed over 800 youth and young adults and conducted over 5000 hours of online observations as part of the most extensive U.S. study of youth media use. Like the Tapscott and Oblinger research, They found that social network and video-sharing sites, online games, and gadgets such as iPods and mobile phones are now fixtures of youth culture. The research shows that today’s youth may be coming of age and struggling for autonomy and identity amid new worlds for communication, friendship, play, and self-expression.
For educators this report is a worthwhile read – there’s plenty of information in the report that will be useful to inform debates and discussions around appropriate use of these technologies as many schools are struggling to establish the worth of such activities as part of formal school settings. The researchers explain why youth find these activities compelling and important, illustrating how 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. They claim that these activities have captured teens’ attention because they provide avenues for extending social worlds, self-directed learning, and independence.
Access to the full report and report summaries can be found here.