Living and Learning with New Media
The authors conclude that young people nowadays are "always on," connecting with friends via text messaging, instant messaging, mobile phones and the Internet. New media presents channels for "hanging out" in a virtual sense and allows friendships to move forward. By "geeking out," young people pursue domain specific information and become experts in their own right, therefore transcending "traditional makers of status and authority." Along the way, they acquire useful social and technological skills necessary to participate in today's society.
At the same time, a new form of "digital divide" has appeared, this one the disjuncture between restricted technological use in the classroom or library and its more liberated manifestations beyond the schoolhouse gate. Social networking is seen by many teachers and parents as a "waste of time" and therefore employ considerable restrictions, but some teens have identified "work-arounds" to circumvent these barriers.
Despite concerns about online predators, teens tend to associate with friends from school, summer camp, athletics, or church. Adult participation in these channels is considered "awkward" and "creepy."
Trial and error is rewarded through new media outlets, with low levels of investments and few consequences in the case of failure. Labeled by the authors as "messing around," it is seen as a transitional phase between "hanging out" and "interest-driven" participation.
The authors conclude that the digital age has provided opportunities that go beyond information-seeking, but also involve social and recreational opportunities. When youth are stifled in this capacity, they are locked out of a common culture and means of socialization. Restrictions are considered "blunt instruments" and perceived by youth as "raw and ill-informed exercises of power."