Politics, Commerce, and Childhood in the Age of the Internet
368 pp., 6 x 9 in,
- Published: February 13, 2009
- Published: July 13, 2007
- Published: February 13, 2009
The role that children and youth play in the emerging digital media culture; as consumers targeted by marketing campaigns, as creators of their own digital culture, and as political participants.
Children and teens today have integrated digital culture seamlessly into their lives. For most, using the Internet, playing videogames, downloading music onto an iPod, or multitasking with a cell phone is no more complicated than setting the toaster oven to "bake" or turning on the TV. In Generation Digital, media expert and activist Kathryn C. Montgomery examines the ways in which the new media landscape is changing the nature of childhood and adolescence and analyzes recent political debates that have shaped both policy and practice in digital culture.
The media has pictured the so-called "digital generation" in contradictory ways: as bold trailblazers and innocent victims, as active creators of digital culture and passive targets of digital marketing. This, says Montgomery, reflects our ambivalent attitude toward both youth and technology. She charts a confluence of historical trends that made children and teens a particularly valuable target market during the early commercialization of the Internet and describes the consumer-group advocacy campaign that led to a law to protect children's privacy on the Internet. Montgomery recounts—as a participant and as a media scholar—the highly publicized battles over indecency and pornography on the Internet. She shows how digital marketing taps into teenagers' developmental needs and how three public service campaigns—about sexuality, smoking, and political involvement—borrowed their techniques from commercial digital marketers. Not all of today's techno-savvy youth are politically disaffected; Generation Digital chronicles the ways that many have used the Internet as a political tool, mobilizing young voters in 2004 and waging battles with the music and media industries over control of cultural expression online.
Montgomery's unique perspective as both advocate and analyst will help parents, politicians, and corporations take the necessary steps to create an open, diverse, equitable, and safe digital media culture for young people.
For those whose media experience is bounded by newspapers and radio, Generation Digital will be an eye-opening guide to the media revolution that is changing the way the next generation thinks and behaves.
Michael F. Jacobson, Executive Director, Center for Science in the Public Interest
Montgomery's study combines the immediacy and engagement of an insider's story with the sharp and dispassionate eye of the scholar. This book will be of interest to those studying children and media as well as to readers with an interest in cultural policy.
David Buckinham, Institute of Education, University of London
This is a wonderful bookdescriptive, analytical, and insightful. Kathryn Montgomery provides a detailed look at how children use digital media and its role in their development. Most important, she elucidates policy concerns about the commercialization of youth with an understanding of marketing and programming practices that are specific to digital media. Beyond the hype, this book reminds all of us that the digital age is being led by our children.
Ellen Wartella, Executive Vice-Chancellor and Provost, University of California, Riverside