Opinion
Ed-Tech Policy Letter to the Editor

Essay’s ‘App Generation’ Description Misrepresents Book, Authors Say

May 13, 2014 1 min read
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To the Editor:

As the authors of The App Generation, we were disappointed to read Jody Passanisi’s mischaracterization of our book in her online First Person essay on a separate book, danah boyd’s It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens.

At the end of her review, Ms. Passanisi compares our book to Ms. Boyd’s and asserts that we “have blamed technology for all that is (perceived to be) wrong with kids these days.”

This is a blatant misrepresentation of our work and suggests that Ms. Passanisi has not, in fact, read our book. If she had, she would have seen that we are careful to present both the pros and cons associated with young people’s technology use in three key areas of life experience: identity, intimacy, and imagination. Moreover, a central contrast we present in the book illustrates our argument that it is not technology that shapes young people, but how they use it.

If young people use technology as a jumping-off point into new experiences and modes of self-expression, we call that “app-enabling.” However, if technology becomes the sole means by which youths make their life decisions, big or small, we call such use “app-dependent.” In fact, readers have asked us for recommendations of apps that are enabling, as well as for information on which uses of an app push a user toward dependence.

In short, we believe it is unfair to accuse us of being either techno-determinists or technophobes, as Ms. Passanisi has done in her essay.

Katie Davis

Assistant Professor

The Information School

University of Washington

Seattle, Wash.

Howard Gardner

Professor of Cognition and Education

Harvard Graduate School of Education

Cambridge, Mass.

A version of this article appeared in the May 14, 2014 edition of Education Week as Essay’s ‘App Generation’ Description Misrepresents Book, Authors Say

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