More and more children and young people from all over the world come of age in virtual social worlds such as World of Warcraft or make friends in social networking sites such as www.yoursphere.com. Digital technologies alter the ways how children play, learn, socialize and consume. They also enable children and young people to express themselves in public forums by combining different modes of communication. Are social media platforms, video games and smart phones dangerous for the children and youth? Or do these media open automatically ways for children and young people to be more engaged in school and community life, learn in multimodal and interactive ways as well as share information on transnational level? How to take critical distance from both “cyber-critics” and “cyber-utopians” and examine the various discourses around children and ICT? The teaching module “Childhood and Youth in the Digital Age: Key Issues and Debates” provides students with theoretical and meta-theoretical tools so that they are able to recognize and respond to core debates such as:
- are children (as opposed to adults) “naturally adept” users of technology?
- do computers transform children so that they participate in “adult” activities such as business or politics?
- are children “naturally innocent” and in danger of being exposed to inappropriate violent or sexual material or do they have an “inherent inclination toward deviance” and seek out inappropriate material on the internet?
- does access to ICT transform ordinary children into exceptionally skilled ones or do new media make youth lonelier and more depressed?
- Will the wide introduction of ICT in education lead to economic growth in Europe and worldwide?
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