UC Berkeley-USC project to study 'digital kids'

Apr 15, 2005

A University of California, Berkeley, professor is spearheading a team just awarded $3.3 million to study "digital kids."
"It will be exciting to investigate kids' innovative knowledge cultures, and how they learn using digital media, in order to think about the consequences for public education as 'digital kids' flow through the school system," said Peter Lyman, a professor at UC Berkeley's School of Information Management & Systems (SIMS) and one of three principal investigators for the project funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

The study will document how youth from ages 10 to 20 are using new digital media to create and exchange knowledge, assess how these phenomena affect learning, and encourage use of its conclusions for the improvement of schools.

"Technology is changing all our lives, but it may be revolutionizing the way that young people think, learn and experience education," said Jonathan F. Fanton, president of the MacArthur Foundation. "Common sense suggests that exposure to digital media affects young people in formative ways, reflected in their judgment, their sense of self, how they express their independence and creativity, and in their ability to think systematically. So far, there is little empirical evidence to back this up."

Lyman's principal investigators include Mizuko Ito, a research scientist at the University of Southern California's Annenberg Center for Communication, who has studied youths' use of digital media in the United States and Japan, and Michael Carter, an educational software developer with the Monterey Institute for Technology and Education.

The three will spend the next three years working with SIMS students to document how and to what effect youth from ages 10 to 20 use cell and camera phones, Web logs, instant messaging, game devices and other new digital media.

The Internet and mobile phones are helping youth build and sustain much wider social networks than in the past and enabling them to communicate in new ways, said Lyman. But while these digital media expand the social life of youth, they also serve as a new mode of learning about how to create knowledge and work collaboratively with others, he said.

Half of the ethnographic study's research sites will be online and include the use of blogs, new online play sites such as Neopets and online games. The other half will include sites like libraries, community centers, game centers and after-school programs that have digital media.

Some of the research will last for a few months, while some will continue for the full three years.

"Our primary focus is on the teen years," Lyman said. "But we are interested in how children are introduced to digital media, how teens bring digital skills to college or the workplace, and how those skills are used."

Explore further: What happened to savings for the future?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Video games, e-commerce booming in Mideast: study

Nov 19, 2014

Video game and e-commerce markets are growing "exponentially" across the Middle East and North Africa, driven by the mobile revolution and new youth-produced content, according to a study.

US cyber-warriors battling Islamic State on Twitter

Aug 31, 2014

The United States has launched a social media offensive against the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda, setting out to win the war of ideas by ridiculing the militants with a mixture of blunt language and sarcasm.

Recommended for you

All together now – three evolutionary perks of singing

23 hours ago

We're enjoying the one time of year when protests of "I can't sing!" are laid aside and we sing carols with others. For some this is a once-a-year special event; the rest of the year is left to the professionals ...

Fish eye sheds light on color vision

Dec 23, 2014

A fish eye from a primitive time when Earth was but one single continent, has yielded evidence of color vision dating back at least 300 million years, researchers said Tuesday.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

noosfractal
not rated yet Aug 13, 2009
Hey teacher. Leave those kids alone.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.