A Life in Bits and Bytes: A Portrait of a College Student and Her Life With Digital Media

Sep. 01, 2011

Source: Teachers College Record Volume 113 Number 9, 2011, p. 1960-1982.

Focus of Study

In this article, the author explores the tension between the promises and perils associated with digital media in the context of one college student’s daily experiences.

Research Design
Using the qualitative method of portraiture, the author examined how one college student uses digital media in her everyday life; her motivations and goals for using various media; and the opportunities and drawbacks she perceives in her daily media use.


This student’s experiences illuminate the always connected, always connecting quality of life for today’s young people. Her experiences also reveal the complexity of life with digital media, because media both support her connections to people and ideas and give rise to feelings of disconnection and fragmentation.
Finally, this portrait highlights the need for and value of nurturing youth’s reflective practices and providing them with spaces to engage in sustained reflection.

Updated: Oct. 27, 2011