Institute of Education


Young people’s digital practices: the question of generativity

Start: Oct 17, 2018 03:30 PM
End: Oct 17, 2018 04:30 PM

Location: UCL Knowledge Lab, 23-29 Emerald St, London WC1N 3QS

Young boys playing with phones

There is a significant tension in public and private initiatives designed to help young people to develop their engagement with digital technologies.

On one side there is a strong emphasis on what the internet can achieve for them and for others. Yet at the same time young people are being increasingly stalled by the emphasis on the need for a more secure and stable internet.

Drawing on data from workshops and in-depth interviews with 50 young people aged 13-18 about their digital lives, this seminar will explore these tensions, and show how wider social structures and commercial pressures are more influential than school coding classes on young people’s digital practices. The seminar aims to highlight how the affordances of apps are increasingly shaping some young people’s digital practices and their level of digital skills; and how access to devices shapes these understandings.

These findings can be explored in light of concerns that current political, economic and social conditions risk sacrificing the internet’s generativity (Zittrain, 2008). It could be argued that schools should facilitate a more disruptive course of action where young people can explore how they can use their digital skills alongside a wider set of skills and knowledge to challenge the architectures of the digital economy’s dominant social technical structures.

About the speaker

Rebecca Eynon is an Associate Professor and Senior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford. Her research focuses on learning and the internet, and the links between digital and social exclusion.