Posted by: irenesroth | December 31, 2013

Book Review First Published with Blogcritics

41wlT5QJs8L._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_The App Generation:
How Today’s Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World
By: Howard Gardner and Katie Davis

It is not difficult to see that our youth are inundated with digital technology. They seem to be plugged in all the time. Professor Howard Gardner and Katie Davis explore some of the drawbacks of the digital age and how we can all take control of our lives.

Our generation is sometimes regarded as the App Generation. It is considered as such because our youth use more apps in their lives than anyone else has in history. And many of our youth have become very app-dependent. One of the purposes of writing this book is to ensure that teens become more app-enabled than app-dependent in future.

Young people growing up in our time are not only immersed in apps; they’ve come to think of the world as an ensemble of apps and to see their lives as a string of ordered apps. Apps that encourage new possibilities are app-enabling. However, when teens allow apps to determine and restrict their procedures, choices, and goals, they become app-dependent.

Digital technologies have transformed a teen’s personal identity, intimate relationships, and how she exercises her creative powers. All of these important aspects of a teens’ life have fundamentally changed how they interact with each other and with themselves.

According to Professor Gardner and Katie Davis, the identities of young individuals are increasingly packaged. The packaging has the consequence of minimizing a focus on an inner life, on personal conflicts and struggles, and on quiet reflection and personal identity. The packaging later discourage these same individuals from taking risks of any sort. This is because teens present a polished self online. This self is not real, but it is manufactured online. This can make teens much more self-focused than teens of previous generations.

Today’s youth also communicate in fundamentally different ways from earlier generations. Internet-enabled cell phones, tablets, and laptops have altered what can be said, where, and to whom. Perhaps the most notable change is the constancy of communication and the immediacy of it. The typical teen sends 60 text messages a day. Among teen girls, the number can jump to as much as 100. Yet teens feel lonelier and more socially isolated. Teens are therefore more and more connected but less and less able to really connect with others face to face.

Apps have also altered the landscape of imaginative expression. They have affected every facet of the creative process. Imagination is a difficult process to define and measure. Digital media may also disrupt the mental processes that are conducive to creative thought in youth.

Thus, it is crucially important for teens to take back their creative and mental powers. They can do this by unplugging from technologies from time to time and only using technologies to pursue new possibilities. Otherwise, teens should monitor their own app-dependence and create a reality that will allow them to have more creative and mental control over their lives and time.

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Rating: 5 Stars

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