Talking about "the media" and "kids" to adults often brings out their most negative opinions about young people. Pundits of all political and social persuasions talk about "the media" and its awesome power to influence vulnerable young people to the exclusion of all other forces.
The truth is that the mainstream media has never been more out of touch with young people. The current generation of kids is the largest we have ever seen and while plenty have tried to speak to them, few are trying to listen.
It is an exciting time to study youth media. Never before has the right technology been in the hands of so many. We finally live in an era when those who don't like "the media" can make the media they want and the kids are doing it. There is a different mindset the Internet inspires that isn't inspired by TV. Kids get different emotional rewards by downloading MP3 files than they get from listening to the radio. ICQ, the cell phone, and pager codes all colour the way we communicate. Video games, web sites and chat colour what we have to say.
There are a thousand questions, but only three answers:
I think the kids themselves are going to give us the other 997 answers.
I specialise in research into how children and teens use interactive technologies. From video games to the Net, young people are engaging with media that afford them greater control and greater levels of empowerment than ever before. I do primary research, conduct focus groups (but not the way everyone else does), surveys and I facilitate usability testing. I also do creative visualisation and imagination exercises to get kids thinking about the future of technology and what they want it to be. A writer by training and inclination, I started in this field in 1996 as Director of Research on the book "Growing Up Digital: the Rise of the Net Generation" by Don Tapscott. I later did marketing and publicity for the book and acted as executive producer for the web site that was designed by a team of teenagers.
I formed my own company in November 1998. I design, implement and conduct custom research projects for corporations seeking to reach the youth markets. I also work with digital studios on defining look and feel issues on projects for kids. I also do a lot of work evaluating business plans for investors and I help people constructing sites or TV shows to develop their business strategies. I've worked for Procter&Gamble, CocaCola and Nortel.
In my volunteer life, I work with a local agency that shelters homeless youth. I am also an active member of Digital Eve Toronto, Women on the Web where we work to introduce girls to technology.
I have spoken about my work in Canada, the US, Germany and Greece.
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