If I Can't Take Away Their Technology...I Can At Least Try To Understand It

This week I'm feeling very good about my field guide project! With more clarification on the task, I feel more and more like I am on the right page.

At this point, I have four different sources that Luna P. and I have annotated to help us find light in the darkness. We have been exploring the idea that multiple digital identities by adolescents highlights their need to share versions of themselves online, proving that there is no distinction between "real life" and "digital life" and that both make up one's persona. At this point in time, I am currently researching the distinction between digital dualism and anti-digital dualism.

I researched Danah Boyd and according to Wikipedia she is: "danah boyd is a technology and social media scholar. She is a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, the founder and president of Data & Society Research Institute, and a Visiting Professor at New York University". I found this very interesting as she does not sound like a professional who works with children. After reading, "Keeping Teens ‘Private’ on Facebook Won’t Protect Them" by Danah Boyd, where she addresses when Facebook allowed teens to share the content public versus just with their friends. The argument Boyd makes is that teenagers need to learn how to interact in the digital age safely, and learn how to make choices in terms of privacy.  I agree. But here's the But-everywhere I read that it's important to give students the freedom to make their own choices and help them navigate this world. While I agree with that, that the world is changing, it's insane to me that we keep giving these kids more freedom, and yet there is a rise in mental health issues in teenagers, and we wonder why? Come on people. The key word in the text is "minors". I get that at 18 they don't drink a magic potion to become an adult, but they for sure have not at 13! Why should a 13 year old be given the same right as an adult? Have the earned it? No. Have the matured enough to handle it? No. 18 is the legal age for a reason: overall more maturity and life experience. Over generalizing for sure, but these kids don't have that and instead of fostering freedom and maturity, we're fostering entitlement and self-righteousness.

I also explored a second source titled, "Networked Teens Are Far From Doomed, New Book Says" by Marco della Cava, who conducts an interview with Danah Boyd in which she states, "When teens engage in an unhealthy way with technology, the first thing that a parent should ask is: what is actually driving this? Then work to address the underlying issue rather than just regulating the symptom." While I understand that a vice is a vice no matter what, and the root of the vice is the main issue, it stands that technology may be creating these issues. I don't know that we'll ever get to the root of why teenagers act and do things a certain way, isn't that proven in the fact that they're hormonal teenagers, but the fact is they are. They see themselves as interacting on these sites, not because it's a vice or they are misusing it but because they are teenagers. Boyd also says that her data shows that technology has not increased bullying, which I call B.S. on because in the world I live in, it most certainly has. 

After researching this week, my plan for next week is to continue down this path of why adolescents use this technology, and if we can't take it away, which I know I need to accept, then how can we better understand it. In terms of the field guide, we were told to offer a solution. My solution is awareness. And as most of the major issues in our world are ongoing because no one seems to have the answer, I think that is sufficient. Raising awareness for an up and coming trend. 


  1. Good to hear that you are zeroing in and finding resources to reference in your guide. From what I remember, danah boyd's work was based on research done during her graduate work, and was ground breaking because she immersed herself in teen culture across the country, and went way beyond generalizations (also, note that her name is always lower case, see http://www.danah.org/name.html)

    Also, we are not asking you to solve a problem, more to come up with suggestions on how individuals can be part of this digital enabled world, so awareness is very much in scope, but maybe try to be more specific as to what this looks like, questions adults can ask, etc.


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