Teens, Digital Media, and the Chicago Public Library


Today’s teens spend inordinate amounts of time on all kinds of media. The challenge is how to take advantage of networked and digital media to provide engaging learning opportunities for youth. YOUmedia Chicago, an innovative learning center at the Harold Washington Library Center in downtown Chicago, attempts to do this.

Opened in fall 2009, YOUmedia attracts high school-aged teens who want a safe and welcoming place to hang out and socialize, as well as those with established or nascent interests in both digital and traditional media. With the guidance of staff and the synergy of peer involvement, participants discover and pursue their interests through both collaborative and solitary activities, such as blogging, writing and sharing poetry,
playing and reviewing electronic games, producing music and videos, and participating in book clubs. Special events open the door for youth to collaborate with and learn from recognized artists, authors, and experts. YOUmedia is being replicated in 30 learning laboratories across the country.

This study, the first of its kind to explore teens’ and adults’ on-the-ground experiences in the flagship program, focuses on activities from 2010-12. It answers key questions about YOUmedia that can help inform the design of similar initiatives and more general efforts to engage students in learning through the use of technology and student-centered activities.

Penny Bender Sebring, Eric R. Brown, Kate M. Julian, Stacy B. Ehrlich, Susan E. Sporte, Erin Bradley, and Lisa Meyer
Publication Date
Wednesday, May 01, 2013