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KakaoTalk and Facebook

Korean American Youth Constructing Hybrid Identities


Jiwoo Park and Dafna Lemish

KakaoTalk and Facebook: Korean American Youth Constructing Hybrid Identities explores the role smartphones play in the lives of Korean American youth as they explore their identities and navigate between fitting into their host society and their Korean heritage. Employing multiple methodologies, this book gives voice to the youth’s personal experiences, identity struggles, and creative digital media practices. While similar in many aspects to other American youth, they also differ greatly in the central roles that their smartphones’ use plays in maintaining their mastery of the Korean language, connecting to Korean pop culture, and cultivating their social networks with other co-ethnic peers and homeland relatives and friends. The results of this study challenge traditional assumptions about assimilation of second generation immigrants into a host society and suggest that digital technologies facilitate the process of segmented assimilation, according to which ethnic identities continue to play a central role in the identity of children of immigrants. KakaoTalk and Facebook will be of great interest to scholars and educators of media and youth and those exploring how digital media have changed the nature of immigration processes in dramatic ways.

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Chapter 3. Digital Practices of Korean American Youth


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We start with a discussion of the first research question of this study: What is the nature of the digital media practices of first-and-a-half and second generation descendants of Korean immigrants in their socialization processes and in the development of their ethnic identity?

The findings presented in this chapter demonstrate that on one hand, there is no significant difference between the digital practices of Korean American youth, in comparison to other immigrant youth, and non-immigrant youth. Digital media are deeply integrated in their everyday lives, with smartphones becoming the most dominant digital technology at their disposal. On the other hand, though, the study presents findings that suggest that their practices differ from their American counterparts in significant ways, including the ubiquitous use of smartphones and the strong preference for the Korean KakaoTalk mobile instant messaging (MIM) application to maintain relationships with co-ethnic family and friends both in the U.S. as well as in Korea.

The data analyses of both 31 PEIs and 154 completed surveys with the children of Korean immigrants residing in the U.S. reveal a compelling picture of the types of digital media devices these youths use, the distinct patterns of their social interaction via these devices in the context of their everyday lives, and the role of these devices in helping them maintain their ethnic distinctiveness. ← 45 | 46 →

Although individual digital media technologies were separately discussed for...

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