Chapter 23 in the Participatory Cultures Handbook dealt with incarcerated youth and how to create a participatory learning culture among them. It is now commonplace in America to believe that education is extremely important for our youth. In this chapter the idea of Digital Media and Learning (DML) is introduced to encourage a greater participatory culture in modern day society. In an institution where self-expression is dejected and the ability to collaborate and interact with peers is not a primary concern of the facilitators it is hard to form a sense of community. Therefore, finding a way to encourage participatory culture is important for incarcerated youth otherwise they will be left behind in society.
Digital media is the most realistic outlet for incarcerated youth to experience civic engagement. One of the problems researchers faced was the danger that the youth could face in court due to the publicity of their writing. If they shared their experiences and life behind bars online they could be at potential risk in the future. Even though the incarcerated youth could be kept private it would potentially inhibit their learning process. The inequalities present in the incarcerated youth is significant, therefore, their development in social skills and general intelligence is altered. While the media can be a great tool to promote participatory culture and provide learning to underprivileged youth it also has its dangers. The danger of privacy is a large topic in this day and age. Whatever you put out on the Internet is available to everyone and can never really be “deleted.” In the case of the incarcerated youth it would be easy for others to judge them for a lack of ethical behavior. This is why it would be important to first teach youth proper demeanor and social responsibility in online communities.
The Internet has had a large effect on the world today. There is, without a doubt, an online culture that can be beneficial to participatory culture in youth regardless of their place in life. With that educational responsibility and benefit comes danger and great responsibility. Digital media will always run into conflict with existing cultural practices and accepted norms. The key is to find the right balance where the youth can be educated but not put at risk. This would promote a healthy participatory culture environment that would encourage collaboration and self-expression. In addition, networking is a valuable asset of digital media allowing people to make connections and achieve greater success. Therefore, educating the youth is extremely important in achieving a safe participatory culture environment online and having the benefits of digital media outweigh the risks.