Summary

Cantoni Lorenzo,

Abstract


This special issue of Qwerty is devotedto explore the topic of socalled“Generation Y” or “DigitalNatives”: are these only labels? Isit true that young generations thinkand learn differently from theirpredecessors just because theywere born and are growing up in acontext widely permeated by thediffusion of Information and CommunicationTechnologies (ICT), asthese labels could suggest?In the introductory article, a map ofthe debate on the topic is drawn.First the main players who havepromoted these expressions arecategorized, as well as their criticalcounterparts; then, the debate isinserted into the more general discussionabout the relationship betweenmedia and persons, andabout the possible different approachestowards technologies, inparticular determinism and instrumentalism.Finally, a more integratedapproach to the topic isproposed, by paralleling it withthe relationship between historyand geography in human societiesand civilizations.The second article presents one ofthe critical voices, which offers anextensive overview on empiricalstudies on the media diet of younggenerations. The article intends tocounter balance many naïve approaches,and to help abandon anaut-aut approach, in favor of an etetone: leaving apocalyptic narrativeslike “young learners arecompletely different” – often usedas an easy self-justification ofteaching/learning failures – andadopting more integrative narrativeslike: new learners use a lotICT beside other pre-existing media,and they use them also to satisfynever-ending needs of socializationsand social recognition.Two other articles present specificstudies, rooted in given sociogeographicalcontexts, and provideuseful insights into specificaspects of the adoption of ICT inlearning and socializing. In theformer, a pedagogical perspectiveon the GenY issue is adopted, inorder to show that the concept of“generation Y” is inadequate todescribe the population of nowadayslearners. To support thisclaim, the results of a researchconducted at the Open Campus ofthe University of the West Indiesare provided, offering interestingfindings, both quantitative andqualitative. The latter aims at analyzinghow new media influencethe processes of identity buildingin youth, observing in particularthe presence of political issues inthe online interactions of a groupof Italian 18-years old young peopleon a social network (Facebook)in the week before the firstlocal elections in which they couldvote. It emerges that the politicaluse of Facebook by young peopleis fragmented, and that offline politicalparticipation of youngstersmay be only somehow promotedby a tool like Facebook.

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