Youth has become a battlefield on which the current generation of adolescents, baby boomers, parents and corporate media interests are fighting for control of its meanings, investments and powers, fighting to articulate and thereby construct its experiences, identities, practices, discourses and social differences. (Grossberg 1992, p 183)
If the 1990s can be characterised as a decade obsessed with images of youth and youth culture, then one of the forces driving this obsession was the many labels given to young people, such as Generation X, Generation Y, Generation T (for technology), the Nintendo Generation and Techno Teens. Media literacy is central to visions of the various groups (Wark 1993; Ritchie 1995). Young people today are characterised as media citizens (Brabazon 1997), using and manipulating media to build identities. The 1990s have also seen concerns raised about the impact of convergence and new technologies such as video games, computers, the Internet and mobile phones on young people, fuelled by images of hackers, Internet and mobile phone addicts, victims of cyberstalking and socially outcast teenage males downloading bomb-making instructions from the World Wide Web to emulate violence such the US Columbine High School killings.
However, while young people and the media became the objects of much hype, youth and its relationship with the media is also a significantly underdeveloped branch of media and communication studies. Children's television, in particular, is the topic of considerable research and policy interest. However, Australian media researchers appear to be reluctant about examining teenagers and the media. The situation only appears worse with 18–24-year-olds, who straddle the categories of teen and young adult and, until recently (Sternberg 1998; Burton 2000), were virtually absent from the literature.