Important new book on youth online

So much great work in youth social-media use and online safety has been going on in the UK, from the Byron Review and ensuing Action Plan to the just-released “Digital Manifesto” from a coalition of children’s nonprofits to to the EU Kids Online project based at the London School of Economics & Political Science. LSE professor Sonia Livingstone has been busy – having directed EU Kids Online, a three-year, 21-country study that just ended with a conference last week; won a 2.5 million-euro ($3.47m) grant for two more years’ research (“one of the largest ever won by the LSE,” reports); and published her new book, Children and the Internet: Great Expectations, Challenging Realities. Media professor Henry Jenkins has just blogged a short interview with Livingstone about her book here, commenting on the balance she has always struck: The book, he writes, “will be of immediate relevance for all of us doing work on new media literacies and digital learning and beyond, for all of you who are trying to make sense of the challenges and contradictions of parenting in the digital age. As always, what I admire most about Livingstone is her deft balance,” Jenkins writes. I hope he won’t mind if I share an especially interesting comment from Livingstone in the interview: “I’ve sought to show how young people’s enthusiasm, energies and interests are a great starting point for them to maximize the potential the internet could afford them, but they can’t do it on their own, for the internet is a resource largely of our – adult – making. And it’s full of false promises…. It invites civic participation, but political groups still communicate one-way more than two-way, treating the internet more as a broadcast than an interactive medium; and adults celebrate young people’s engagement with online information and communication at the same time as seeking to restrict them, worrying about addiction, distraction, and loss of concentration, not to mention the many fears about pornography, race hate and inappropriate sexual contact.” I first wrote about Livingstone’s work in 2003 and most recently in “Fictionalizing their profiles.”

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