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Learning and the E-Generation by Lee Farrington-Flint, Jean D. M. Underwood

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Chapter Seven Absorbed by Technology

Introduction

Previous chapters have provided evidence of the impact of digital technologies on young people’s lives, particularly the way in which they communicate with their peer group and develop new and highly complex digital literacy skills. Ofcom’s (2010) UK-wide survey showed a tipping point when adolescents and young adults preferred use of digital technology. For the first time 16 to 24 year olds declared their mobile phones and the Internet more important than television, although the majority of post-24 year olds remained wedded to the television. Similarly, Carrier, Cheever, et al. (2009) in their cross-generational study in the United States found that those born between 1982 and 2001 were spending more time than previous generations on media-related activities such as web surfing, texting and video games. So are there any benefits for education of all this tech-time? The evidence at first sight is equivocal. While Davies and Good (2009), for example, have found a positive relationship between personal access to the Internet and the extent to which learners use the technology for their school or college work, students are acutely aware of the clear boundaries between technology for school and technology for leisure activities.

Returning to the Ofcom survey, it found that in 2009 almost half of young people aged between 8 and 17 have a profile on a social networking site such as Facebook. Social media are now integral to ...

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