Young people and technology

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Do young people use technology in different ways to most adults and value it more?

Young people appear to use technology in ways that are different to most of their teachers and parents. Adults (depending on their age) typically use information and communication technologies (ICTs) as functional tools that are used for practical or business purposes. Parents and teachers see technology as being most beneficial for accessing new knowledge and learning. Young people on the other hand see technologies (and especially the internet) as a vital part of their social life and the building of their identity.

Mobile phones seem to be the key to young people’s social lives, especially in Australia (ACMA, 2007). They have become status items that reflect the emerging identities of young people (Belsey, 2008) who personalise them (e.g. by selecting colour, size, covers and ringtones) and compete to have the newest phone with the widest capabilities. A study by the McCrindle research group (Hale, 2009; McCrindle, n.d.), indicated that whereas the milestones of previous generations included leaving school, getting a job or moving out of home, the most significant milestones towards adulthood are now acquiring a mobile phone and joining online social networking sites. Bauman (2007) argues that young people place a high value on technology because it is one of few areas where their knowledge and skills exceed most of the adults with whom they interact.

However, although this may be true of mobile phone technology, it may not be accurate when applied to internet usage. One Canadian study (IPSOS, 2008) found that young people (at least in Canada) may not in fact be sophisticated users of technology, with only 28% of young people aged 12-17 rating themselves as very skilled or expert in the use of the internet, 48% rating themselves as fairly skilled, and 24% rating themselves as not being skilled. However, another Canadian study (IPSOS, 2008) found that young people aged 13-17 are far more aware than adults of online social networks or communities such as Windows Live Space, YouTube, Facebook, and MySpace and this is probably so in Australia as well. 

For more information read the paper below
Young People & Technology Paper

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