Bri Colorful

Don’t Pull the Plug

Posted on: October 27, 2010

I just read this interesting article written about the stereotypes of teenagers and their use of technology. Amy Goldwasser makes some interesting points:

  • People are badmouthing teenagers for being part of a “fragmenting culture” in which “young men and women … have read nothing, knowing only some specialty or other, for instance, computers.””
  • Teenagers may not be able to spit out a rapid fire answer to an author/ title question, but because such information is literally at their fingertips on the internet, memorization-type knowledge of that sort is out of date.
  • Those who stereotype teens’ use of technology as a waste of time should realize that the internet is a tool for communication, collaboration, writing, activism, sharing, and storytelling.
  • “The average teen chooses to spend an average of 16.7 hours a week reading and writing online” (and 80% of statistics are made up on the spot … that one seems a little high to me, but okay)
  • “Regularly, often late at night, [teenagers] are generating a body of intimate written work. They appreciate the value of a good story and the power of a speech that moves”

and the main point? “Teenagers today read and write for fun; it’s part of their social lives. We need to start celebrating this unprecedented surge, incorporating it as an educational tool instead of meeting it with punishing pop quizzes and suspicion.”

It’s some interesting food for thought. Now for the connection to what I’m learning in my English classes:

In the 18th century, there emerged a new genre of short personal essays published on a weekly basis. Because of the frequency of publication, they were pretty informal and didn’t always get their facts exactly straight. Still, my Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Restoration and the 18th Century records that such “periodical writing [as that of] Addison and Steele (popular authors of this genre of periodical publication) is remarkable for its comprehensive attention to diverse aspects of English life — good manners, daily happenings in London, going to church, shopping, investing in the stock market, the fascinations of trade and commerce, proper gender roles and relations, the personality types found in society, the town’s offerings of high and low entertainment, tastes in literature and luxury goods, [and] philosophical speculation…”

Sound familiar? It’s pretty comparable to blogging (and other internet mediums). Today the publications run by Addison and Steele (the Spectator and the Tatler) are one of the most valuable resources we have as an insight into the culture of 18th century England. But writers like Addison and Steele also faced opposition; in their case it was from big wigs like Alexander Pope (possibly out of fear of losing money from this popular new medium of thought). Similarly, Goldwasser postulates that maybe people are afraid of what teenagers have to say.

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1 Response to "Don’t Pull the Plug"

Interesting point there. Working with teens, I’d say for me it’s not as much afraid of what they have to say as it is afraid of HOW they say it!

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