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This book is the culmination of several years of research by 28 different researchers, studying kids' use of the Internet, digital media and social networking sites. With interviews from more than 800 teens and thousands of hours observing behaviour of such, the book is an exposition of the new methods for learning, that are not only driven by technology but adopted by youths outside of the control of slightly sluggish schools.

"Kids today are learning outside the boundaries of formal education," the lead author is keen to reiterate. "Technology is allowing them to access information and craft their own identities in unprecedented ways, without interference from parents or teachers."

It defies conventional wisdom, but possesses all the empirical data it needs to support the claims this book makes about its subject matter. As this is the first study of its kind to ignore conventional wisdom, and map out these new paths to learning, it is hard to disagree with the findings.

The team found that - contrary to what adults may think - adolescents develop important life skills when using the Internet or such gadgets as iPods and cell phones to play games, socialize with friends or search for information.

They're able to grapple with social norms, explore interests, hone technical abilities and experiment with self-expression. And teens have embraced the digital world, Ito says, because it facilitates self-directed learning and independence.

By focusing on media practices in the everyday contexts of family and peer interaction, the book views the relationship of youth and new media not simply in terms of technology trends but situated within the broader structural conditions of childhood and the negotiations with adults that frame the experience of youth in the United States.

Integrating twenty-three different case studies?which include Harry Potter podcasting, video-game playing, music-sharing, and online romantic breakups?in a unique collaborative authorship style, Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out is distinctive for its combination of in-depth description of specific group dynamics with conceptual analysis.

This book was written as a collaborative effort by members of the Digital Youth Project, a three-year research effort funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and conducted at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Southern California.


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