Worried About the Wrong Things
It’s a familiar narrative in both real life and fiction, from news reports to television storylines: a young person is bullied online, or targeted by an online predator, or exposed to sexually explicit content. The consequences are bleak; the young person is shunned, suicidal, psychologically ruined. In this book, Jacqueline Ryan Vickery argues that there are other urgent concerns about young people’s online experiences besides porn, predators, and peers. We need to turn our attention to inequitable opportunities for participation in a digital culture. Technical and material obstacles prevent low-income and other marginalized young people from the positive, community-building, and creative experiences that are possible online.
Vickery explains that cautionary tales about online risk have shaped the way we think about technology and youth. She analyzes the discourses of risk in popular culture, journalism, and policy, and finds that harm-driven expectations, based a privileged perception of risk, enact control over technology. Opportunity-driven expectations, on the other hand, based on evidence and lived experience, produce discourses that acknowledge the practices and agency of young people rather than seeing them as passive victims who need to be protected.
Vickery first addresses how the discourses of risk regulate and control technology, then turns to the online practices of youth at a low-income, minority-majority Texas high school. She considers the participation gap and the need for schools to teach digital literacies, privacy, and different online learning ecologies. Finally, she shows that opportunity-driven expectations can guide young people’s online experiences in ways that balance protection and agency.
About the Author
Jacqueline Ryan Vickery is Assistant Professor in the Department of Media Arts at the University of North Texas.
—Lynn Schofield Clark, Professor and Chair, Department of Media, Film and Journalism Studies, University of Denver; author of The Parent App: Understanding Families in the Digital Age
—John Potter, Reader in Media in Education, UCL Knowledge Lab, UCL Institute of Education, London; author of Digital Media and Learner Identity: The New Curatorship