Kids These Days

Kids can be so cool.  Their imaginations are so huge and uninhibited, and they can create amazing things.  Which is why it is so great to put digital media in the hands of today’s youth and just watch them fly.

In Oakland, California a program called “Digital Underground Storytelling for Youth”, or just DUSTY, young people have the opportunity to pair their wild imaginations with cameras, audio equipment, editing software, and experts to give them guidance. The program is working to close the digital divide, by providing access to the latest in digital technology (Hull, 2003, p.230).

Don’t be so cynical as to think this is an after school club for kids who want to play video games.  The point of DUSTY is to get the youth to start thinking of how they view themselves, their neighborhoods, and the stories that exist around them (Hull, 2003, p.230).  The results are 3-5 minute long pieces that include video, photography, music, and a narration recorded by the artist.

Hull argues that in a world where “images push words off the page and our lives become increasingly mediated by a popular visual center”, these kinds of programs keep kids focused on their linguistics (2003, p. 230).

It is also helping kids take control of their own lives.  Hull uses the example of Randy, one of the participants at DUSTY, who created a piece that began with images that included the pyramids, Malcolm X, and Biggie Smalls.  He explained that  he wanted to associate himself with all of those objects or people.  Hull argues that this project, more so than just writing an essay or a piece of poetry, gives Randy and youth like him a “powerful authorial agency” (2003, p. 231).

Programs like DUSTY can be empowering for the youth they serve, but are also an important model for how technology can be used to educate and facilitate positive growth.  Despite some educators and experts strongly opposing the use of screens in education, the reality is that teaching and technology have officially merged, and educational media are making their way into more homes across America.  In a study done by the Joan Ganz Cooner Center, it was revealed that 2/3 of children ages 2-10 have e-readers, and children spend an average of 42 minutes watching educational television (Rideout, 2014).

As long as we are a society obsessed, we may as well use the technology we have to bring positive change to the lives of underprivileged youth.


Hull, Glynda. (2003). Youth Culture and Digital Media: New Literacies for New Times. Reseach in the Teaching of English, 38, 229-240.

Rideout, Victoria. (Jan 2014). Learning at Home: Families Educational Media Use in America. The Joan Ganz Cooney Center.  Retrieved June 16, 2014, from

5 thoughts on “Kids These Days

  1. I agree what you are saying in the article. Kids have many possibilities to become the one they want to be. The digital devices may stimulate their creative potential.


  2. This is a really interesting program and one that I wish existed when I was in elementary school! I was always very creative but could really only express it in my once-a-week art class or in essays, which was difficult because I always wanted to be visually creative. If this program existed, I truly believed I would’ve thrived in it and could have advanced more in college. If these kids acquire skills that we are just learning, it will be very interesting to see what level they’re at when they get to higher educational institutes. I mean, just imagine! If they know how to operate digital devices now, the possibilities are endless for them in a world that’s becoming all digital. I feel like old-school professors want to crack down hard on keeping kids on a math/science/writing track, but what about those creative ones who thrive in other areas? We need to embrace those people too and be open to all aspects of education. I really hope more programs start popping up like this!


  3. I’m glad you said to not be cynical because after I watched the Google video of the “computer sassy” new born baby I was about to be cynical. Yet, I think there is something positive to be gained from children learning the ways of using technology. As many limitations there are to technology usage, there are still benefits. Children becoming better prepared to learning technology might just be a good thing. As long as underprivileged children are a part of the conversation as well. I would hate to see children who are from a lower class get pushed to the side in the technology race.


  4. I actually agree with Bilal! What happens if you go to a school in inner city Chicago or Cleveland? They do not have these resources! Technological resources are for the privileged which creates a disadvantage and a future divide! I think that children’s minds move faster than we know but not all children get to use their minds! The race is already over before they even get to middle school so what can we do to help these children (all children) win!!!!


  5. My only question is what ages do young people enter a program like DUSTY? I agree with the above commenters about the benefits of students learning to use media technology at an early age. But my one concern is if a child begins learning technology before having a steady grasps on the fundamental concepts when it comes to communication such as reading and writing. Once a student has core fundamentals down, then move to more digital platforms for expressing their work.


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