Against Technologization:: Young people's media discourse as creative cultural practice

Against Technologization:: Young people's media discourse as creative cultural practice

Article written by Crispin Thurlow and Katherine Bell. 

This article deals with the use of technologies to communicate by young people.

1. Definitions 

-Technologization: the action of equipping with technology, to make something technologic. In this context, it will be young people's technologization. 

-Literacy: the ability to write and read 

-EmployabilityA set of achievements – skills, understandings, and personal attributes – that make graduates more likely to gain employment and be successful in their chosen occupations, which benefits themselves, the workforce, the community, and the economy.

2. Issues about young people's literacy and employability 


Adults complain a lot about young people using new technologies, because it would destroy the languages, according to languages experts. But the advertisers tell you that you need to buy a cell phone to fit into the society. So, this is a dilemma between destroying the language or fit into the society.
The newspapers illustrated this problem with the example of a 13-year-old girl who wrote an essay using texting language in class. But the study researchers think that the newspapers emphasized too much on the destruction of literacy, and not enough on the creativity and the clever humor of the student. 

However, when an adult uses new media discourse in an official context, he’s being approved by everyone. When young people use new media discourse, this is the “death of English” but when grown-up use media discourse, it’s on the contrary “innovative”. Study finds this absurd.

Illustrating video:


In addition to literacy, adults are worried about employability. A survey made by the NIFL in 2005 shows that employers are worried about young people's future skills, especially “technology skills” as number one, and “poor reading, writing, math, and communication skills”. 

Further to this survey, the National Institute for Literacy (NIFL) made a model of what they called ‘a skill set’ that specifies what adults need to do to be considered as workers, citizens, and parents.
They set a particular model of communication skills, a kind of standardization of the communication. This would be the kind of model that young people should follow and acquire to be able to communicate well. But still, this model is insufficient, for the writers of this article, too reductive and not contextualized. 
Because media discourse has a great influence on what we call communication, experts should reorganize everything to combine new media discourse and communication skills for employability.

 3. Research questions 

  • What are young people really doing with new communication technologies? 
  • How are young people reworking standard linguistic forms and practices?
  • How do young people themselves talk about new technology and/or its role in their lives?
  • How are new technologies seen to be supporting young people’s interpersonal needs?
  • How are young people using technologies for artistic, educational, political, and other creative purposes?
  • How are new communication technologies connecting different groups of young people?
To answer these questions, two major themes emerged from this study:
1.       -Young people adapt creatively the media discourse with their lives (social, cultural, personal, educational needs)

1. Translocality: example of young Finnish people who create their own language by mixing languages, langue registers, genres, and styles
2. Find and/or create your identity (especially for young queer people), being comforted with other people’s stories, find communities and support 

3. Emotional support, help with homework etc... for low-income young people
        -Challenge the problems about literacy and employability
      1. Correlation between text messaging and literacy skills (standard literacy tests in the UK realized)

2. Advantage for disadvantaged ones: using technologies or having online connections, particularly at school be can be vital for disadvantaged young people, who don’t have computers at home.

3. Social inclusion for those who are not in school because of pregnancy, mental illness or even homelessness


Young people’s technologization should be seen as a creative opportunity and not a threat for our languages. This technologization is beneficial for their development and their future communication skills. 

Class discussion

What do you think about using tablets in school? What are the problems and the advantages about literacy? 

Advantages: the children will be more autonomous and will be prepared for the future since we live in a technologic society. The children are more motivated in class and will be able to acquire digital skills. 

Disadvantages: Using tablets every day can cause health problems, as well as addiction problems. 

Tablets may improve children's reading skills with the autocorrection. But they might be lacking writing skills since they would only us the tablets to write and not pen. However, it depends on the languages used.