The advantages of growing up with the Internet: adolescents and participation


The development of digital technologies, and the consequent sociocultural change, has encouraged the adolescent population to participate in virtual environments.

This permanent connection and supposed dependence on their smartphones and digital networks arouses suspicion, if not concern, on the part of those of us who did not grow up in a similar situation. But there is another way to analyze and understand the phenomenon: never in the history of humanity have young people expressed such concern about participating in the culture of their time and had had so many facilities to do so.

The taste for the use of digital technologies has been a characteristic of the younger generations, who see the Internet, in general, and social networks and mobile technologies, in particular, as their natural habitat for action. Their social relationships are organized autonomously into different groups, where they share a digital narrative through TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, WhatsApp, etc.

The adolescent population develops its virtual strategies to share, solve problems, develop tasks, collaboratively build knowledge and promote dynamic communication channels . Likewise, adolescence openly manifests a tendency towards informal learning in social networks, which turns them into interactive, awake and socially digital subjects .

Digitally creative

Adolescence is empowered in the digital space and appropriates sufficient authority to participate in collective intelligence , as Lévy said.

With the development of digital technologies, the adolescent population has seen the doors open to creation, seeing themselves doomed to this so as not to fall into the risk of exclusion by their peers.


Thus, the young generations are carrying out a process of intercreativity, a step beyond creativity, where they unite two very important concepts, creativity and interactivity, in their relationships with equals. From this perspective of horizontal communication, it is possible to develop their own learning and contribute to building social knowledge.

Adolescents have the ability to successfully interact in analog and digital environments and need to be part of social groups to modify their environment and, at the same time, enrich and mature their internal world. In this way, her ability to position herself in an intercreative way before the reality that surrounds her is manifested.

In this evolutionary stage, the social sphere becomes vitally important, where they are considered the main actors, as the media heroes they follow, such as youtubers and other influencers , who have become role models with great influence on creativity. and adolescent thought.

Transmedia storytelling

In the post-digital society, adolescents interact through technologies in an innate way and from organized groups, being increasingly aware of their abilities and the possibilities of the culture of knowledge.

Multiple screens open the way to participatory culture, exercising collaborative narratives to create and express opinions and feelings, assume responsibilities and make decisions in a transmedia scenario.

Let us remember that a transmedia narrative is developed through multiple platforms and that each text forms a specific node of valuable information for the entire message.

Lack of education

Until now, the scant media education received by the youngest had focused on the development of skills that would enable them to interpret critically those messages broadcast by the media.

However, currently, transmedia practices in youth contexts require not only this critical analysis of discourse, but also the incorporation of the transmedia creation of stories and the ability and competence to manage the flow of information they receive.

Conflicts and management

Some adolescents are not fully aware of the risks involved in participating in certain digital spaces: not only in terms of security and control, but also in managing the interpersonal conflicts that arise.

Integrating digital technologies into the daily life of the classroom, with the connectivist approach of Siemens , allows you to experience learning proposals from video games, augmented reality, the metaverse or the different productions of transmedia narratives that invite creation and promote suitable channels for adolescent empowerment.

It is common for previous generations to consider adolescents immature and incapable of accepting and integrating into the “adult world”. But young people have shown today more than ever that they have the resources to establish a personal relationship with others through the integration of their new digital social world with attractive horizons.

Of course, they need expert accompaniment in media literacy to avoid possible deception and manipulation to which they may be doomed.

Author Bio: Sara Osuna-Acedo is a University Professor – Communication and Education at UNED – National University of Distance Education