The App Generation

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TWO Talk about Technology

Gardner and Davis are concerned with three areas of adolescent life: identity, intimacy, and imagination. Through research, including interviews of young people, focus groups of those who work with them, and a unique comparison of youthful artistic productions before and after the digital revolution, the authors uncover the drawbacks of apps: they may foreclose a sense of identity, encourage superficial relations with others, and stunt creative imagination. On the other hand, the benefits of apps are equally striking: they can promote a strong sense of identity, allow deep relationships, and stimulate creativity.

RSA Replay: The App Generation: identity, intimacy and imagination in the digital era

The challenge is to venture beyond the ways that apps are designed to be used, Gardner and Davis conclude, and they suggest how the power of apps can be a springboard to greater creativity and higher aspirations. Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation.

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Parents and teachers can encourage imaginative exploration, beyond the letter of the app. But part of the burden also falls on those who devise apps. How does an older person, a non-digital native, recognize the harmful uses of digital technology? We would be concerned if any young person spent too much time in the digital world, at the cost of face-to-face contact or time to relax, reflect, rest. But by the time a child is 12 or 16, adults have difficulty knowing, let alone controlling, what the young person does.


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That is why both co-exploration when the child is young and learning enough so that you are not completely a digital immigrant are very important for adults of any generation. To be sure, the nature of our species has not changed fundamentally over time.

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And yet we maintain that, courtesy of digital technologies, Identity, Intimacy and Imagination have each been reconfigured significantly in recent decades. Signs of these changes can be discerned in our conversation.

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Though they are Facebook friends, the sisters employ the popular social networking site in different ways. Having joined as an adult in her late twenties, Katie uses Facebook intermittently to stay connected to friends and family living across Canada, the United States, and Bermuda. For Molly, Facebook represents a far more integral part of her daily experience.

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Since she joined at the age of twelve, Facebook has represented a vital social context throughout her formative adolescent years. They then brainstorm about apps and their use in lifelong learning. In other words, they try to make a case for all of us to become more app-enabled rather than app-dependent like so many youth today. It is time to join Huck Finn and light out for new territories! Read an excerpt on Nurturing.

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Search Updates Donate Sign In. Thought-provoking report on the App Generation and what technology is doing to their identity, intimacy, and imagination. Related Main Practice Meaning.

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