What do young people really do with digital media? Young People's Literacies in the Digital Age aims to debunk the common myths and assumptions that are associated with young people's relationship with digital media. In contrast to widespread notions of the empowered and enabled 'digital native', the book presents a more complex picture of young people's digital lives.

Focusing on the notion of 'critical digital literacies' this book tackles a number of pressing questions that are often ignored in media hype and political panics over young people’s digital media use, including:

  • In what ways can digital media enhance, shape or constrain identity representation and communication?
  • How do digital experiences map onto young people’s everyday lives?
  • What are young people’s critical understandings of digital media and how did they develop these?
  • What are the dominant understandings young people have of digital media and in whose interests do they work? 

These questions are addressed through the findings of a year of fieldwork with groups of young people aged 14 to 19 years. Over the course of eight chapters, the experiences and views of these young people are explored with reference to various academic literatures, such as digital literacies, media and communication studies, critical theory and youth studies. Starting with their early socialisation into the digital context, the book traces the continuities, contradictions and conflicts they encounter as part of their practices. Written in a detailed but accessible manner, this book develops a unique perspective on young people’s digital lives.

chapter |9 pages


chapter 1|20 pages

Young people’s digital lives

An introduction

chapter 2|19 pages

Digital narratives

A case study

chapter 3|24 pages

Digital dispositions

chapter 4|28 pages

(Re)presenting identities

chapter 5|25 pages

Connecting with others

chapter 6|24 pages

Critical understandings of the digital

chapter 7|16 pages

Toward a critical digital disposition