Danah Boyd on Trends in Teen Media Use

This written talk by Danah Boyd caught my eye and is worth a break from How Children Succeed. Her talk forecasts the nature of future organizations based on trends in start up culture and teen media use. She argues that today is about the development of the individual through their social networks. Organizations are a means of implementing and realizing, but they are not the primary focus. I love her productive cross-generational comparison. I’ll reflect on the teen learning topics of her talk here and will save start up reflections for a separate organizational strategy discussion. Boyd explores how social media demonstrates three aspects of teen development: identity experimentation, navigating public/private boundaries and building relationships and networks.

Identity Experimentation

A feedback book at a public library is filled with more expressions of personal identity than comments on the library.

A feedback book at a public library is filled with more expressions of personal identity than comments on the library.

Boyd makes a similar argument as Sherry Turkle in Alone Together: teen years are crowded with responsibilities and expectations that give them little opportunity to experiment with who they are and who they want to be. Social media serves as an interstitial realm that they can control: “it becomes a training ground for independence, creativity, and personal self-expression.”

How can we support this experimentation in learning environments? How can we connect them to the social media realm for safe experimentation? And help them carry the fruits of that experimentation into the physical realm? How can we create a physical realm that similarly supports experimentation?