Teen Culture, Technology and Literacy Instruction: Urban Adolescent Students’ Perspectives
Keywords:New technologies, social media, teen culture, language and literacy, technology adoption, age differences, middle school students, urban schools
AbstractModern teens have pervasively integrated new technologies into their lives, and technology has become an important component of teen popular culture. Educators have pointed out the promise of exploiting technology to enhance students’ language and literacy skills and general academic success. However, there is no consensus on the effect of technology on teens, and scant literature is available that incorporates the perspective of urban and linguistically diverse students on the feasibility of applying new technologies in teaching and learning literacy in intact classrooms. This paper reports urban adolescents’ perspectives on the use of technology within teen culture, for learning in general and for literacy instruction in particular. Focus group interviews were conducted among linguistically diverse urban students in grades 6, 7 and 8 in a lower income neighborhood in the Northeastern region of the United States. The major findings of the study were that 1) urban teens primarily and almost exclusively used social media and technology devices for peer socializing, 2) they were interested in using technology to improve their literacy skills, but did not appear to voluntarily or independently integrate technology into learning, and 3) 8th graders were considerably more sophisticated in their use of technology and their suggestions for application of technology to literacy learning than 6th and 7th graders. These findings lead to suggestions for developing effective literacy instruction using new technologies.
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