Millions of children visit virtual worlds every day. In such virtual play spaces as Habbo Hotel, Toontown, and Whyville, kids chat with friends from school, meet new people, construct avatars, and earn and spend virtual currency. In Connected Play, Yasmin Kafai and Deborah Fields investigate what happens when kids play in virtual worlds, how this matters for their offline lives, and what this means for the design of educational opportunities in digital worlds.
There has been widespread concern in contemporary Western societies about declining engagement in civic life; people are less inclined to vote, to join political parties, to campaign for social causes, or to trust political processes. Young people in particular are frequently described as alienated or apathetic. Some have looked optimistically to new media—and particularly the Internet—as a means of revitalizing civic life and democracy.
Conventional wisdom about young people's use of digital technology often equates generational identity with technology identity: today's teens seem constantly plugged in to video games, social networks sites, and text messaging. Yet there is little actual research that investigates the intricate dynamics of youth's social and recreational use of digital media.
Today, computers are part of kids' everyday lives, used both for play and for learning. We envy children's natural affinity for computers, the ease with which they click in and out of digital worlds. Thirty years ago, however, the computer belonged almost exclusively to business, the military, and academia. In Engineering Play, Mizuko Ito describes the transformation of the computer from a tool associated with adults and work to one linked to children, learning, and play.
In the many studies of games and young people's use of them, little has been written about an overall "ecology" of gaming, game design and play—mapping the ways that all the various elements, from coding to social practices to aesthetics, coexist in the game world. This volume looks at games as systems in which young users participate, as gamers, producers, and learners.
Young people's use of digital media may result in various innovations and unexpected outcomes, from the use of videogame technologies to create films to the effect of home digital media on family life. This volume examines the core issues that arise when digital media use results in unintended learning experiences and unanticipated social encounters.
Young people today have grown up living substantial portions of their lives online, seeking entertainment, social relationships, and a place to express themselves. It is clear that participation in online communities is important for many young people, but less clear how this translates into civic or political engagement. This volume examines the relationship of online action and real-world politics.
It may have been true once that (as the famous cartoon of the 1990s put it) "Nobody knows you're a dog on the Internet," and that (as an MCI commercial of that era declared) on the Internet there is no race, gender, or infirmity, but today, with the development of web cams, digital photography, cell phone cameras, streaming video, and social networking sites, this notion seems quaintly idealistic. This volume takes up issues of race and ethnicity in the new digital media landscape.
Today we have access to an almost inconceivably vast amount of information, from sources that are increasingly portable, accessible, and interactive. The Internet and the explosion of digital media content have made more information available from more sources to more people than at any other time in human history. This brings an infinite number of opportunities for learning, social connection, and entertainment. But at the same time, the origin of information, its quality, and its veracity are often difficult to assess.
As young people today grow up in a world saturated with digital media, how does it affect their sense of self and others? As they define and redefine their identities through engagements with technology, what are the implications for their experiences as learners, citizens, consumers, and family and community members? This volume addresses the consequences of digital media use for young people’s individual and social identities.
The popular image of the “digital native"—usually depicted as a technically savvy and digitally empowered teen—is based on the assumption that all young people are equally equipped to become innovators and entrepreneurs. Yet young people in low-income communities often lack access to the learning opportunities, tools, and collaborators (at school and elsewhere) that help digital natives develop the necessary expertise.