The Digital Edge

How Black and Latino Youth Navigate Digital Inequality

304 pages

0 illustrations

December, 2018

ISBN: 9781479849857



Add to Cart Available: 11/16/2018

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S. Craig Watkins is Professor in the department of Radio-Television-Film at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of three previous books, The Young and the Digital: What the Migration to Social Network Sites, Games, and Anytime, Anywhere Media Means for Our Future (2009), Hip Hop Matters: Politics, Pop Culture and the Struggle for the Soul of a Movement (2005), and Representing: Hip Hop Culture and the Production of Black Cinema (1998).


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Andres Lombana-Bermudez is a researcher, designer, and digital strategist working at the intersection of digital technology, youth, citizenship, and learning. He is a fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society and a Research Associate with the Connected Learning Research Network.


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Alexander Cho is a digital media anthropologist who studies how young people use social media. He is a Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of California Humanities Research Institute. 


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Vivian Shaw is a doctoral student in Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin.


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Jacqueline Vickery is Assistant Professor in the department of Media Arts at the University of North Texas. She is the author of Worried about the Wrong Things: Youth, Risk, and Opportunity in the Digital World (2017).


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Lauren Weinzimmer is a PhD Candidate with a concentration in Critical Media Studies in the department of Communication at the University of Minnesota.


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How black and Latino youth learn, create, and collaborate online
The Digital Edge examines how the digital and social-media lives of low-income youth, especially youth of color, have evolved amidst rapid social and technological change. While notions of the digital divide between the “technology rich” and the “technology poor” have largely focused on access to new media technologies, the contours of the digital divide have grown increasingly complex. Analyzing data from a year‐long ethnographic study at Freeway High School, the authors investigate how the digital media ecologies and practices of black and Latino youth have adapted as a result of the wider diffusion of the internet all around us--in homes, at school, and in the palm of our hands. Their eager adoption of different technologies forge new possibilities for learning and creating that recognize the collective power of youth: peer networks, inventive uses of technology, and impassioned interests that are remaking the digital world.
Relying on nearly three hundred in-depth interviews with students, teachers, and parents, and hundreds of hours of observation in technology classes and after school programs, The Digital Edge carefully documents some of the emergent challenges for creating a more equitable digital and educational future. Focusing on the complex interactions between race, class, gender, geography and social inequality, the book explores the educational perils and possibilities of the expansion of digital media into the lives and learning environments of low-income youth. Ultimately, the book addresses how schools can support the ability of students to develop the social, technological, and educational skills required to navigate twenty-first century life. 


  • "A powerful dispatch from the front lines of the battle to ensure that digital education closes—rather than widens—gaps between communities of color and the rest of the nation. Digital Edge wrestles with the complex questions of whether the excitement Black Latino youth have expressed in adopting digital technologies can turn into economic opportunity, and whether our education system is capable of channeling that passion into educational equity."

    —Ethan Zuckerman, author of Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection

  • "For anyone interested in an up-close observation of how black, Latinx, immigrant, and low-income students are participating in a complex digital world, I highly recommend The Digital Edge for its critical analysis of the complexities and tensions involved with technology in education, equity, and what it means to prepare all youth to be 'future ready'."

    —Jane Margolis, author of Stuck in the Shallow End: Education, Race, And Computing