Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media

Mizuko Ito et al. Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media. Boston, Mass.: MIT Press. 432 pages. (2009)


Conventional wisdom about young people's use of digital technology often equates generational identity with technology identity: today's teens seem constantly plugged in to video games, social networks sites, and text messaging. Yet there is little actual research that investigates the intricate dynamics of youth's social and recreational use of digital media. Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out fills this gap, reporting on an ambitious three-year ethnographic investigation into how young people are living and learning with new media in varied settings—at home, in after school programs, and in online spaces. By focusing on media practices in the everyday contexts of family and peer interaction, the book views the relationship of youth and new media not simply in terms of technology trends but situated within the broader structural conditions of childhood and the negotiations with adults that frame the experience of youth in the United States.

Integrating twenty-three different case studies—which include Harry Potter podcasting, video-game playing, music-sharing, and online romantic breakups—in a unique collaborative authorship style, Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out is distinctive for its combination of in-depth description of specific group dynamics with conceptual analysis.

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Sidebar Text

Authors include: With
  • Judd Antin (Ph.D. student)
  • Megan Finn (Ph.D. student)
  • Arthur Law (MIMS 2005)
  • Sarai Mitnick (MIMS 2006)
  • David Scholssberg (MIMS 2005)
  • Sarita Yardi (MIMS 2006)
"This book is a must for anyone interested in youth culture, learning, and new media."
—John Seely Brown, former director of Xerox PARC
"This is a beautifully written and extraordinarily rich account of perhaps the most important challenge cyberspace gives us: understanding how it is changing our kids, and how it might change our understanding of literacy."
—Lawrence Lessig, Center for Internet and Society, Stanford University

Last updated:

September 20, 2016