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Questioning the Generational Divide: Technological Exoticism and Adult Constructions of Online Youth Identity

January 1, 2008

Part of the Volume on Youth, Identity, and Digital Media. This chapter reflects on the effects and implications of the discrepancy between adult perspectives on digital media and youth experiences. Through an analysis of public discourse by marketers, journalists, and new media researchers compared with statements by young technology users, it is proposed that the current so-called "Internet generation" is in fact a transitional generation, in which young Internet users are characterized to varying degrees by a dual consciousness of both their own and adult perspectives, the latter of which tend to exoticize youth. An analogy with the first television generation is developed to suggest that the birth of a true Internet generation, some years in the future, will pave the way for more normalized, difficult-to-question changes in media attitudes and consumption, and thus that the present transitional moment should be taken advantage of to encourage conversation between adults and youth about technology and social change.

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