Magazine article Technology & Learning

Rethinking the Digital Divide

Magazine article Technology & Learning

Rethinking the Digital Divide

Article excerpt

Instead of dismissing youth's use of recreational technology as "a waste of time "educators ... should explore ways to cultivate and build on those skills, researchers argue.

Parents of teenagers today often complain their children are "addicted" to technology, spending too much time playing video games and watching YouTube videos, according to a recent report on Pullias Center for Higher Education. For black youth, such criticisms about their technology use come not just from family members, but from educational researchers too.

That is one the findings of a newly-published study in Howard University's The Journal of Negro Education. The two authors found, for example, that because black teens are more likely than their white and Asian counterparts to use their phones and computers for gaming and cartoon watching, some researchers assumed that "black youth are making decisions counter to their academic growth." But the answer isn't that cut and dry, according to the study's authors.

"While black youth are less likely to use their computers and cell phones for educational purposes, this doesn't mean these youth don't have an interest in education," said Antar Tichavakunda, assistant professor of education leadership at the University of Cincinnati and a research associate of the Pullias Center. "The real issue could be that the content on educational sites was not made to appeal to or connect with this population group."

According to the authors, educators and researchers should refrain from jumping to limiting conclusions, and instead study the digital practices of black students more carefully through a cultural lens. …

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