Growing Up Digital

14 Jun

Lately I’ve been reading a slew of papers from Harvard University’s GoodPlay Project, a project within the GoodWork Project and Project Zero. This collaboration looks at how peoples’ morals and ethics are shaped and affected by the digital shift. One of their goals is to discover ways to increase digital citizenship, especially with regards to adolescents. Generation Y, or Millenials as they are commonly called, are the generation most familiar and dependent on the Internet and all of the social networking facets that accompany it.

One paper that succinctly describes their purpose and goals is Meeting of the Minds: a compilation of findings from virtual focus conversations (not really groups) held with both teens and adults. It compares and contrasts the generational differences across five categories: Identity, privacy, credibility, authorship and ownership, and participation. The quotes they were able to obtain from teens on these subjects are surprisingly well-spoken and articulate. I love the fact that these conversations were conducted online. It is much less intimidating and lends to the ecological validity of the study.

This white paper hints that the reason parents and older generations are less trustworthy of the Internet and youth usage of the Internet is not because they don’t trust younger people with the technology, but because they lack a complete knowledge of the technology. How can someone fully trust their child with an instrument whose impact they don’t fully grasp? Parents seem to spend more time worrying and blowing issues out of proportion than actively teaching their children how to act responsibly online as they would in real life. Although it doesn’t explicitly state this in the paper, it’s a point I took away and that stuck with me after reading.

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