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Adolescents’ New Literacies with and through Mobile Phones


Julie Warner

This book provides a deeper understanding of the phone-based composing practices of youth and their implications for literacy learning. In the United States, smartphone use among teens is nearly universal, yet many youth who are avid digital composers still struggle with formal schooled literacy. The widespread and rapid embrace of smartphones by youth from all income levels has had a substantial impact on the way that young people approach the act of composing, yet to date, little to no work has explored digital photography and text curation through popular apps like Twitter and Instagram and their impact on literacy, including formal schooled literacy. As more schools are moving to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) models and lifting classroom bans on cellphones, classroom teachers need information about the affordances of phones for formal literacy learning, which this book provides.

This book will also be of interest to those in courses in the fields of education, new literacies, cultural studies/youth culture, literacy studies, communication arts, and anthropology of education/social sciences. This book could be used in a course on online/Internet ethnography. It could also be used in a more general research methods course to illustrate the combination of online and offline data collection. Outside of research methods courses, it could be used in courses on literacies, digital literacies, youth culture, popular culture and media, or mobile learning.

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Chapter 3. Mobile Phone Composing and the Spatial Turn



Mobile Phone Composing and the Spatial Turn


This chapter explores the ways in which digital media challenge previously dominant conceptions of space and place and how these new conceptions bear out in youth digital literacy practice. Mobile technologies have provided new sites for examining place, space, and spatiality, and youth digital composing practices, which happen across both physical and digital spaces, illustrate the new ways of thinking about these concepts and for ethnographic research. From the way we think about the nature of space to how we conceive of where spaces originate to how movement across or within spaces happens with the help of mobile technologies, youth mobile phone-based composing practices represent a generative set of habits and dispositions that can act as a starting place for thinking about what funds of knowledge frequent mobile phone composers are bringing into classrooms after “the spatial turn.” The chapter ends with a discussion of embodied literacy practices and how the concept of materiality relates to mobile phone-based literacy practices.

Keywords: Space, spatiality, youth digital literacy, mobile technologies, spatial turn, embodied literacy practices, materiality, ethnography, culture, boundaries

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