The Digital Youth Project: Kids and New Media (and Everything in Between)
The Digital Youth Project is a MacArthur-funded $3.3 million ethnographic study of kids and new media, led by a diverse group of experts from the fields of sociology, psychology, computer science, engineering, media studies, and beyond. Researchers at both the University of Southern California and UC Berkeley contributed to the extensive report, and three years and 22 case studies later, their results have been published in their book, Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out (available as a free download), as well as via a 55-page white paper and concise two-page primer. The study is the largest and most comprehensive of its kind to have been undertaken in the US, and provides invaluable insight into the online and offline world of kids today. Boingboing offers their four-star review:
The conclusions are sane, compassionate, and compelling: in a nutshell, the “serious” stuff we all hope kids will do online (researching papers and so on) are only possible within a framework of “hanging out, messing around and geeking out.” That is to say, all the “time-wasting” social stuff kids do online are key to their explorations and education online.
…This project is the best set of research-driven recommendations and observations about young peoples’ use of technology I’ve seen — it’s the perfect antidote to the scare stories of “internet addiction” and pedophiles stalking MySpace, and the endless refrain about “kids today.” If you care about kids and want to understand how they use technology and why, this is a must-read.