Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Generation Digital

Generation Digital: Politics, Commerce, and Childhood in the Age of the Internet

by Kathryn C. Montgomery

The MIT Press, 2007

ISBN: 9780262134781

I choose this book because I thought it would help me consider the digital divide in terms of sociology, culture, and behavior. Based on what I have read so far, Montgomery is focused on the online experience of children, tween, and teens in the United States (or at least those who have easy access to the Internet). Montgomery describes herself as “a media scholar, advocate, and a parent” (preface), and it's clear that she cares about the influence of the Internet on children. From the beginning of the book, she is critical of market research and advertising aimed at children, and she discusses what she sees as the “breakdown of barriers between 'content and commerce,'” (29), specifically in online information for children. Generation Digital is interesting because of Montgomery's fairly critical tone; it's with an air of disdain that she describes the evolution of marketing to children. She highlights some particularly icky techniques and workshop descriptions from mid-1990's marketing conferences (Ex: encouraging the use of emotions and relationship to market from the “inside out” p. 26), that are sickening in their cunning and heavily-researched manipulation of children. I do feel the danger of becoming distracted by these examples of corporate greed. But, as I continue to read, I'm focusing on what Montgomery has to say about the digital divide (it is mentioned specifically, though briefly, later in the book), her thoughts on other generations as they relate to this one (she does place Internet advertising to children in context of the history of advertising through media), and children in other countries.

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