My So-Called Digital Life : 2,000 Teenagers, 300 Cameras, and 30 Days to Document Their World

My So-Called Digital Life : 2,000 Teenagers, 300 Cameras, and 30 Days to Document Their World
Bob Pletka
September 2005
176

What Do Teenagers Have to Say About Their Lives in the 21st Century?

My So-Called Digital Life is the result of a unique project created by Bob Pletka, technology director for the Covina-Valley Unified School District in Southern California. Pletka instituted a program in which 2,000 high school and middle school students from throughout the state of California-including inner-city, suburban, and rural areas-were given digital cameras and one month to capture their day-to-day life experiences.

In the end, approximately 10,000 photographs from over 2,000 teenagers were distilled down to the most compelling 350 images of what life is like for our children in the 21st century. All of the students were able to communicate with each other over the internet, sharing text, audio, photos, and video. Professional photographers, teachers, historians, and community leaders advised the teenagers, but the images, thoughts, fears, and hopes are theirs alone.

This resulting book presents an uncensored view of the lives of the students as they take on issues of identity, education, technology, family, work, and friendship. The visual story of photographs, essays, and photo captions also shows us whether our schools are places of alienation or communities of support, enclaves of safety or territories of hostility. Are we ready to hear what teenagers want to tell us about themselves?

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