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The App Generation: How Today’s Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World Hardcover – October 22, 2013

4.0 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"An ambitious and admirable project. . . . Meticulously researched and thoughtful."—New York Times Book Review
(New York Times Book Review)

"Elevates the discussion beyond knee-jerk complaints about 'those #@#!! kids who are on their phones all day'."—Mindful Magazine
(Mindful Magazine)

"[The App Generation] possesses an interesting insight. ‘Young people growing up in our time are not only immersed in apps, . . . they’ve come to think of the world as an ensemble of apps, to see their lives as a string of ordered apps, or perhaps, in many cases, a single, extended, cradle-to-grave app.’”—Dwight Garner, New York Times
(Dwight Garner New York Times)

“Provocative . . . Provides useful frameworks for future research.”—Publishers Weekly
(Publishers Weekly)

“[A] necessary book.”—Roger Lewis, Daily Mail (Roger Lewis Daily Mail 2014-02-14)

"Gardner and Davis have offered a challenging and thought-provoking book: particularly rewarding for educators who are interested in thinking about how young people are changing, and how we might preserve the best practices of our profession while adapting the tools that define a generation."—Education Week's EdTech Researcher
(Education Week's EdTech Researcher)

“Here we have a serious consideration that a generation has grown up with an emotional aesthetic as instrumental as their technology. That is, this generation approaches intimacy, identity, and imagination through the prism of the apps that have surrounded them. Gardner and Davis further consider the proposition that ’What can’t be an app doesn’t matter.’ But the authors do more than this. They approach their subject in a constructive spirit, providing analytical tools to distinguish among apps, the ones that will stifle and the ones that will nurture. In the end, they see a way forward: We are responsible, individually and in our communities and families to use technology in ways that open up the world rather that close it down. The App Generation is not anti-technology; it simply puts technology in its place.”—Sherry Turkle, author of Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other
(Sherry Turkle)

The App Generation deals with a crucial issue for our future, and it is a pioneering and prophetic work in its genre.”—Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
(Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi)

“This book is must reading for parents, teachers and policy makers. It presents a portrait of today’s young people, not in terms of the traditional historical events of their lives, but instead the digital technology that shaped this generation. It compellingly and powerfully examines the impact, consequences, and implications for their and society’s future.”—Arthur Levine, President of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation & former President of Teachers College, Columbia University
(Arthur Levine)

"This compelling book explores what it's like to be 'app-dependent' and what life was like before the power of apps on our society. Howard Gardner, the renowned father of the multiple intelligence theory, along with co-writer Kate Davis, offers readers an in-depth look at the benefits and drawbacks of apps, and how the power of these apps can lead to greater creativity. "—Top Books for Educators,About.com
(Top Books for Educators, About.com)

 “Many of the observations. . .are illuminated with careful thought and research [and] offer a readable and intelligent summary of where we are today.”—Josh Glancy, The Sunday Times (Josh Glancy The Sunday Times 2014-01-26)

“Gardner is a renowned psychologist who has long decried box-ticking behaviourist approaches to education.. . .he and Davis. . .build a strong case that a dependency on apps is having a reductive effect on young people.” —Gautam Malkani, The Financial Times
(Gautam Malkani The Financial Times 2014-03-01)

‘[I]n the process of setting out their findings, they raise important questions: what is what they’re calling “the app generation” – the young people who have never lived without the internet, without smartphones – actually like?’—Jacob Mikanowski, Prospect Magazine
(Jacob Mikanowski Prospect Magazine 2014-04-24)

"A thoughtful overview of how digital media and applications have contributed to a pervasive app mentality among youth. . . . The combination of conversational style and scholarly annotations makes the book rewarding for a broad audience, including parents and educators. . . . Highly recommended. All Readers."—Choice

From the Author

A conversation with Howard Gardner and Katie Davis . . .

Q: Have digital media shifted the way we form and maintain personal relationships?

A:  Social media have made it incredibly easy to keep in touch with friends and acquaintances. But there is considerable concern that the effort we put into maintaining our weaker social ties may crowd out the sustained attention needed to nurture deeper relationships. Even so, our research suggests that most of today’s young people seek traditional qualities in their online relationships: empathy, trust, reciprocity, and self-disclosure.

Q: How can we help young people to use apps positively?

A: Parents and teachers can encourage imaginative exploration, beyond the letter of the app. But part of the burden also falls on those who devise apps. Too many educational apps are just digital versions of "drill-and-kill." We need apps that open up new possibilities and then allow the user to explore, imagine, expand, and, on occasion, toss aside the digital device and “go it alone.”

Q: How does an older person, a nondigital native, recognize the harmful uses of digital technology?

 A: We would be concerned if any young person spent too much time in the digital world, at the cost of face-to-face contact or time to relax, reflect, rest. And of course, one has to be on the lookout for frankly damaging behavior—bullying, invasion of another’s privacy, sexting, and so on. But by the time a child is 12 or 16, adults have difficulty knowing, let alone controlling, what the young person does. That is why both co-exploration when the child is young and learning enough so that you are not completely a digital immigrant are very important for adults of any generation.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (October 22, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300196210
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300196214
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #163,309 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. L Lamendola VINE VOICE on October 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover
In a bygone era, parents and teachers provided the lessons and kids responded. With today's app generation, parents and teachers must take an entirely different approach. They are the ones who must respond, because electronic media have completely changed the locus and flow of information.

Does this book provide a recipe for what that response should be? No, but it does provide valuable insight into dealing with the app generation.

Typically, a book addressing social issues has an agenda. The drawback there, of course, is the book is intended to be a proof of a thesis rather than an open-minded exploration of the issue. The former can easily be a blind leading the blind situation, and that's why an agenda-less book like this one is so valuable.

However, the drawback of the agenda-less book is the reader isn't likely to walk away with a "correct answer" sort of conclusion. But if you need such a conclusion, you probably aren't ready to examine social issues because seldom do such simple conclusions reflect the complex reality. Things are more nuanced and layered than such conclusions permit.

This book didn't hit us with dire warnings that apps are turning kids into zombies. Nor did it herald a new age, in which app-enabled kids will run circles around their app-avoiding parents.

What the authors did was look at how different generations view the mobile app technology. They looked closely at the changes between the generations. It's a complex mosaic, and in that mosaic we find both good and bad effects. They provided some analysis of this also, without going very far down the opinion road.

If a reader can sense any personal opinion in this book, it's basically along the lines of "We want to look at both sides.
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Format: Paperback
I looked forward to what Howard Gardner, who brought the concept of multiple intelligences to the public, had to say about the “app generation”. I was disappointed that the first 30 pages of this 200 page book were devoted to defining “generation”. Ensuing pages sprawled. The authors explore the “3 I’s” (Identity, Intimacy and Imagination) making connections and a few conclusions through anecdotes and brief summaries of research.

The book read like a draft. I think the authors were not clear on whether they were presenting research to prove something about this topic or whether they were describing the navigation of the 3 I’s as noted in the sub-title.

Injecting the studies makes it seem like something will be proven/disproven. The book would rest better on the anecdotes and if the studies are used, there should be more clearly explained as well as their connections to the result. Here are three examples of the kind of dangling studies in this book:

1. After a number of anecdotes and the citation from a study that undergraduates/recent graduates and their parents are in contact 13.5 times a week, the conclusion is that technology weakens the ability to develop an autonomous self and that the app generation needs to seek reassurance outside the self. (p. 85) Since the study is not explained, the conclusion seems to be a leap. For instance, does in include those living with parents? Family business? What is the nature of the almost twice daily contact?

2. The “Bermuda Study” is cited in the methodologies and mentioned (p. 11) as contributing to the book but unless the results are in the text unidentified or are buried in the footnotes (not indexed) we never get the results.

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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have read quite a few editorials, books chapters, even listened to podcasts that condemned or bemoaned the state of "today's youth" especially when the effects of wide spread technology and education are being discussed. As a 26 year old university graduate, I can nod my head and acknowledge that there are "issues" with both my generation and my much younger siblings' generation, however, I am often left feeling out in the cold, as if the older generation writing the piece is simple whining and getting on his/her soap box without understanding the context or having ever logged into a social media sight themselves.

Not so with Howard and Katie, as they refer to themselves in The App Generation. They come to the issues of the "app" generation with an open, academic, yet sympathetically human mind and access actual data and information given in a variety of studies and their own investigations. Three distinct generations, Howard's, the grandfather age generation, Katie's, middle age or parent generation and Katie's daughter, the youth generation are present fully in the pages of the book and used as the starting point of a useful and clearly well consider contribution to the conversations of today on of education, generation gaps, and technology.

I recommend this read to people of all generations, especially parents and young adults. If you're looking for something to bash over someone's head, you will not find it here, but if you're looking for something well thought out and fuel to start conversations, this is a good point of departure.
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