Graduation Date

5-2013

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department or Program

Education

Department or Program Chair

Elizabeth Truesdell, Ph.D.

First Reader

Madalienne F. Peters, Ed.D.

Abstract

Into today’s world, digital technology changes so rapidly and integrates into our society at such an accelerated rate, it is hard to keep up with it, let alone reflect on the effects it has on our lives. Although Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, did not exist a mere decade ago, they are now ubiquitous forms of media and communication in our culture. Today’s generation of teenagers, born in the 1990s, aptly labeled the “iGeneration”, are the most connected generation ever. These iGen teens are digital natives growing up in an era of a massive influx of technology. They do not know of a world that does not include the Internet and easy access to technology. Parents of iGen youth, however, are “digital immigrants”. As immigrants, they struggle with a learning curve and lack the innate knowledge and ease with digital technology as that of their native offspring. There is little historical data or longitudinal studies of the social cognitive effects of digital media consumption to help inform and guide digital immigrants and natives alike in making choices about digital practices. Statistics change so quickly, it makes for an ongoing challenge to understand how to structure or regulate digital consumption. The intention of this research is to better understand how digital consumption effects teenager’s cognitive abilities and socialization processes, with the goal of discovering best practices and guidelines for educators and parents to implement with regard to their teenagers’ digital consumption, as we spin faster and faster into this digital era.

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