MacArthur announced plans to build the emerging field of digital media and learning, committing $50 million over five years to the effort. The Foundation will fund research and innovative projects focused on understanding the impact of the widespread use of digital media on our youth and how they learn.
"This is the first generation to grow up digital - coming of age in a world where computers, the internet, videogames, and cell phones are common, and where expressing themselves through these tools is the norm," said MacArthur President Jonathan Fanton, who announced the new initiative today. "Given how present these technologies are in their lives, do young people act, think and learn differently today? And what are the implications for education and for society? MacArthur will encourage this discussion, fund research, support innovation, and engage those who can make judgments about these difficult but critical questions."
MacArthur's approach is comprehensive, extending beyond the classroom to assess how digital technology may transform youth in both their formal and informal learning environments. The research will test the theory that digital youth are different because they use digital tools to assimilate knowledge, play, communicate, and create social networks in new and different ways. The Foundation's efforts will connect players across a variety of academic, education, commercial, and nonprofit fields to assess implications and seed new collaborative projects.
Eighty-three percent of young people between the ages of 8 and 18 play video games regularly; nearly three-quarters use instant messaging. On a typical day, more than half of U.S. teenagers use a computer and more than 40 percent play a video game. Using websites like MySpace and Facebook, young people are sharing photos, videos, music, ideas, and opinions online, connecting with a large group of peers in new and sometimes unexpected ways.
Fanton also announced -