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July 23rd, 2010

Instant digital wholeness

Last night at youth club 2 examples of the digital age or the ‘post digital age’ whatever you may call it unraveled before me. As I was leaning on the Cafe counter chatting to one of the volunteers we overheard one young person say to another ‘ when I have no BB messenger I feel empty‘ – I did a double take and both myself and the volunteer looked at each other a little speechless.

The second incident happened about 30 mins later, we have 6 computers in the community centre which are public access computers for the young people to safely access the internet. I walked up behind two young people on the computers (they were sitting next to each other) and began a conversation about what they were looking at on the computers – it was Facebook. After a dismissive grunt, I looked at their screens and as it transpired they were ‘chatting’ to each other via Facebook instant messaging function, as they sat next to each other.

These 2 examples got me thinking and asking a couple of questions:

  1. What does this mean for Youth Work and Informal Education, a profession that depends heavily on conversation and spoken communication?
  2. What does this mean for the young people? Are they missing out on communication skills? Can they communicate without a digital aid?