Digital Youth Project



The Digital Youth Project “is a three-year collaborative project funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Carried out by researchers at the University of Southern California and University of California, Berkeley, the digital youth project explores how kids use digital media in their everyday lives.”

The research took over three years and involved ethnographic observation of over 800 young people, 5000 hours of observation, combining to form 22 different case studies by 28 researchers. It’s possibly the most relevant, comprehensive, and up-to-date research you will find of the ways in which young people in the USA use new media. How their use compares with that of young people in Europe is debatable, of course, but this research is certainly the basis of that debate.

A two-page (PDF) summary of the final report is here.

Media students are mostly young people, who use new media, but have probably not studied the ways in which friends and peers use it. This project is particularly relevant to the “e-media” part of the MEST 1 cross-media topic (on the new AQA AS specification), especially to those studying “Lifestyle” as the cross-media topic.

Longer than the two-page report is the summary white paper.

But it’s worth taking the time to read the whole thing, or at least relevant parts of it, and the full report is here. It’s usefully divided up into chapter sections under the headings of Media Ecologies, Friendship, Intimacy, Families, Gaming, Creative Production, and Work. Fairly comprehensive. The Creative Production section might be of interest to students and teachers at those centres studying “Broadcast Fiction or Film” as the cross-media topic.

Here’s the opening of the Creative Production chapter (by Patricia G. Lange and Mizuko Ito):

Two 14-year-old boys from the Washington, DC, area have an account on YouTube in which they post videos made by their own video-production company. Their videos often sport a personalized introduction in the form of their logo, written in Lego building blocks, set ablaze by a lighter. One of the boys, Max, hopes to be a director or filmmaker and thought it was important to have a production company, since some of his favorite filmmakers, such as Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, have production companies too.