I’ve recently read a section from “Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project“* about “Hanging Out”. It talks about the shift of the definition due to the implementation of technology.
As I read the article I was sitting at a café in one of the most WIRED cities in the world, Hong Kong. I would periodically pause from my reading to see its findings laid out around me. The report describes how some kids use it as soon as they awake to communicate with friend or significant other. Some use technology as the center piece to gather around and be social (video games, web searches, youtube). Across from me is a group of four guys in their 20′s. They’re sitting in a circle playing a linked game between their PSPs while joking and having a good time. The girl across from me as been slowly sipping her latte while chatting with a friend in Japanese on Skype. The couple in the corner have a Y jack for headphones in their Ipad as they watch a movie together.
I count 47 people in the room. 28 are using technology in one form or another. Almost all have cellphones out or at the ready to read, share, and send texts. It is a new era of hanging out.
If hanging out through the use of technology is becoming the norm for a growing number of people, why are so many educators stopping it in the classroom when it could be used as a valuable resource for our students to gather information and collaborate worldwide?
*The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Reports on Digital Media and Learning | November 2008