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Revisiting the digital divide: identity formation


I’m revisiting an Australian report I read as part of my first research topic (see relevant post here). It wasn’t that relevant to the topic (open source textbooks), but it got me thinking in a way I hadn’t before (which is a good thing 🙂 ). I doubt I would have attached great value to this without having heard Danah Boyd talk on social identity.

The report gives a rather standard account of teen identity formation using social media. What is really interesting is how access issues relate to this phenomenon. Schools, library and other places where students can use internet for free, frequently block content including social network sites.  “This has particular implications for young people’s identity formation and social relationships if school is their only internet access point” (p.19).

So whilst teen social identity formation through social networks sites is an interesting topic of study, it is important to remember that some teens are excluded from this process. Unfortunately, as summed up by Danah Boyd, ” if you’re not on my space, you don’t exist”. The extent to which this is true in different social settings is debatable, yet the message is clear and the divide very real.

Blanchard, M., Metcalf, A., Burns, J.M. (2007) Bridging the digital divide: creating opportunities for marginalised young people to get connected’ Report for the Inspire Foundation and OrygenYouth Health Research Centre, University of Melbourne, Melbourne.

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