What Would Erik Erikson Say Now?: Just About Everything You Wanted to Know About Modern Youth Culture and the Internet

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Abstract

Reviews the book, Contemporary Youth Culture: An International Encyclopedia (Vols. 1 & 2) edited by S. Steinberg, P. Parmar, and B. Richard (see records 2006-01496-000 and 2006-01497-000). One quickly becomes immersed in these two volumes. Breaking with the traditional style of encyclopedias, these editors present a smorgasbord of 185 minichapters grouped according to four broad themes: Why Study Youth Culture, The Media Culture and Youth, Politics and Youth Activism, and Teaching and Learning In and Out of School. While reading these two volumes, one feels like a voyeur getting a rare glimpse of what young people do with their time. The editors make a very strong case that today's youth are different from the young people of the 1960s through the 1980s. Computers and powerful communication tools, coupled with extended periods of economic dependency, have thrust youth into a world of uncensored information that is unlike any other period in history. The volumes consider topics such as: ageism, sexism, media, identity, and politics. The author feels that these two volumes actually add little of substance to what we already know about adolescence. That being said, the fact is that we know little about adolescence. We all agree that emancipation from childhood takes many forms and that each period in history fashions adolescence in its own image. With the explosive availability of the Internet and access to a flood of media messages, today's youth live in a new age, and we need to learn more about this brave new world if we ever hope to understand adolescents and their problems.

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