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Friday, October 25, 2013

The App Generation: How Today's Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World

If you haven't caught on by now, I work in education and classify myself as a psychologist. While I don't do work specifically with intelligence, I am very familiar with Howard Gardner's work. So when I heard that he and Katie Davis had released a book titled, The App Generation: How Today's Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World, I thought it would be a good one to add to my knowledge repertoire.

It comes as no surprise to anyone living in the twenty first century that we have become a culture of tech-dependent citizens. As we look toward the digital natives of our world, we find that they are the young people around us. This is what Drs. Gardner and Davis term, "The App Generation." In this exploration of the generation of children dependent upon electronic communication to not just communicate but also form their identities, the authors view their work through the lens of examining how apps shape young people's intimacy, imagination, and identity.

I found this book to be interesting as a whole, but it was the lens through which the authors chose to look at how technology shapes the current young generation to be the most important message. I find that when discussing technology with those who don't do research in the area, you get a lot of backlash against "kids these days." You hear that they don't know how to communicate, they are always on their phones, they are rude, etc. Funny enough, it's the very same thing older generations were saying about the adults now when they were kids, and it's what adults said about my generation, too. I appreciated that Drs. Gardner and Davis took a step back to ask how kids are forming their identities, forming intimate relationships, and exploring their imagination through the use of apps and technology.

There are definitely downsides to the proliferation of iPhones and tablets, but sometimes we miss the forest for the trees. I am of the mindset that we should embrace what we can't change--the reality is that iPhones aren't going away, they are getting smarter and more usable every day. I am a teacher of teachers leading students through an almost daily discussion of using technology in their classrooms. I decided earlier this year to stop fighting it and to embrace it--and I feel that this book supports this. For better or worse, our young people are viewing themselves through the framework of technology and it is a part of their identity formation. Rather than pushing back, let's find ways to use this to our advantage and not get so behind the times that we lose track of the presence of tech in child development.

Kindle version on left, hard copy on right.

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