Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 5-15-2017


New media and digital technologies shape the literacy practices and identity development of adolescents (Ellison, 2014, Barton & Hamilton, 2000; Perry, 2012; Lotherington & Jenson, 2011). Research into this phenomenon has largely focused on the general adolescent population. However, this narrative inquiry focuses on the experiences of four adolescents of color in New York City who live in poverty. Participants in this study visit a neighborhood library to access computers and the Internet. The researcher conducted semi-structure interviews in the library to evoke narratives about participants’ use of digital media and observed participants as they used the library computers. Analysis of data revealed several patterns in their stories. None of the participants had daily, personal access to technology outside of school. Their schools provide little time on computers and minimal access to the Internet. One student did have extended computer time for English language learning, and another had a used cell phone with no data plan. All participants exerted enormous effort to gain limited access to computer time after school on weekdays only. At the library computers, they completed school work, played games, used social media, learned English, and conducted research. These literate practices enabled playful learning by doing and the trying on and crafting of identities in these virtual spaces. Students developed hope for future careers--as a photographer, an animator, a medical doctor, and a film maker.


Digital literacy, Instructional technology, Adolescent digital literacy, New literacies, Historically underserved adolecents and digital learning, Intersection between Literacy and digital tools

Document Type




Degree Name

Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies

First Committee Member (Chair)

Dr. Lucretia Penny Pence

Second Committee Member

Dr. Karla Kingsley

Third Committee Member

Dr. Carlos-Lopez Levia

Fourth Committee Member

Dr. Ashley Dallacqua