To read this content please select one of the options below:

Keep Calm: Youth Navigating Adult Authority across Networked Publics

Technology and Youth: Growing Up in a Digital World

ISBN: 978-1-78560-265-8, eISBN: 978-1-78560-264-1

Publication date: 24 September 2015



Rooted in adult fear, adult authority aims to protect and control youth (Gannon, 2008; Valentine, 1997). Continuously negotiating for freedom, youth search for adult-free public spaces and are therefore extremely attracted to social networking sites (boyd, 2007, 2014). However, a significant portion of youth now includes adult authorities within their Facebook networks (Madden et al., 2013). Thus, this study explores how youth navigate familial- and educational-adult authorities across social networking sites in relation to their local peer culture.


Through semi-structured interviews, including youth-centered and participant-driven social media tours, 82 youth from the Northeast region of the United States of America (9–17 years of age; 43 females and 39 males) shared their lived experiences and perspectives about social media during the summer of 2013.


In their everyday lives, youth are subjected to the normative expectations emerging from peer culture, school, and family life. Within these different and at times conflicting normative schemas, youth’s social media use is subject to adult authority. In response, youth develop intricate ways to navigate adult authority across social networking sites.


Adult fear is powerful, but fragile to youth’s interpretation; networked publics are now regulated and youth’s ability to navigate then is based on their social location; and youth’s social media use must be contextualized to be holistically understood.




We would like to extend our deepest gratitude to the youth for granting us access to their private digital worlds, the youth centers for granting us access to this local peer culture, the student researchers and IT personnel who contributed to the data collection and data management processes and the reviewers who helped us strengthen this paper. This research was funded by Connecticut College’s R. F. Johnson Faculty Development Fund, Research Matters Faculty Grant, Susan Eckert Lynch ‘62 Faculty Research Fund, Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity’s Faculty Research Grant, the Margaret Sheridan ’67 Research Initiative Career Enhancing Life Skills Program, and the Connecticut College Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts Research Program. Gracias.


Campos-Holland, A., Dinsmore, B., Pol, G. and Zevallos, K. (2015), "Keep Calm: Youth Navigating Adult Authority across Networked Publics", Technology and Youth: Growing Up in a Digital World (Sociological Studies of Children and Youth, Vol. 19), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 163-211.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015 Emerald Group Publishing Limited