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ChristenMangum
ENG2010019
Webber
February28,2014
MindtheGap
ARhetoricalAnalysisofDigitalMediaandtheGenerationGapbyLynnSchofieldClark

WrittenbyLynnSchofieldClark,anauthorandcoauthorofvariousbooksaboutthe

influencedigitalmediahasonteenagersandfamilies,thisarticleelaboratedandinvestigatedon
thedynamicbetweenparentsandtheirteenagedchildren.Overthecourseofsevenyears,from
2001to2008,Clarkinterviewedatotalof55parentsand125adolescentsandteensto
understandhowtheincreasinginfluenceofdigitalmediaandtechnologieswerechangingthe
interactionswithinthefamilydynamic.Theseinterviewsbroughttolightthedifferentparenting
techniquesthatparentshavetriedtoimplementconcerningtheirchildrensusageoftechnology,
andhowtheirteenagersrespondingtothemeasures.
BeforeClarkactuallydidtheinterviews,shemadesurethatshehadawiderangeof
people.Inherarticle,Clarkgivesthereaderabreakdownofthedifferentethnicities,household
incomes,whichfamilyunitshadasingleparent,andwherethefamilieslived.Whenthe
interviewstookplace,Clarkandherteaminterviewedtheparentsandteenstogether,andthen
heldanotherinterviewwiththeparentsandteensseparated.Asoftenhappenswhenthewhole
familyistogether,thepresenceofparentsbarstheirchildrenfrombeingforthrightbecauseofa
fearofdisappointingtheirparents.Sowiththatpresenceremoved,theteensarefreetobemore
truthful.

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Ineachinterview,asdescribedinthearticle,thetopicsthateachindividualwasasked
aboutwereabouttheuse,rules,andthetensionsrelatedtothemediaandtechnologyintheir
lives.Clarktellsthataftertheinterviews,sheandherteamusednarrativesininteraction
methodofanalysis.Clarkexplainsthatthismethodthattheresearchernotonlyanalysewhatwas
saidduringtheinterview,butwhatwasnotsaid,andwhethercertainstatementsmighthavebeen
putintoaspecificcontextbytheindividualinordertoelicitadesiredreactionfromtheir
audience.Clarkfurtherexplainsthattherearetwolevelsofanalysistothisapproach.Thefirstis
toconsiderwhatwasactuallysaid,andthentoconsiderifwhateverstatementwasmademight
beunderstooddifferentlybetweenthestorytellerandtheiraudience.
Clarkthenoutlinesthepurposeofherarticle.Herpurposeistounderstandhowparents
trytoenforcetheirauthorityovertheirteensinteractionwithtechnology,andtheteens
techniquesonhandlingthetechnologythemselves.Clarkthengoesontotellusaboutthe
interviews.Shegivesthreeindepthexamplesofthreefamilyscenarios.
ThefirstoneisthesingleparenthouseholdoftheOdells.Inthebiracialfamily,the
motherexpressedaconcernthathertwochildren,wereseeingthingstheywerentsupposedto,
likepornography,aworrywaspresentedwhenshesawanewssegmentfeaturingsuchdangers,
howeverthedaughterrolledhereyes,irritatedwithwhatshesawashermotherslackof
awarenessoftheonlineenvironmentYoucanblockstufflikethat(Clark,393).
ThesecondstorythatClarkdetailsistheCordovafamily.Thefatherwasreluctantto
givehisdaughteracellphone.Clarkclaimsthatthisreluctancestemmedfromthefamilys
limitedincome,thathehadseenandheardsomanybadthingsabouttheinternet,adesireto

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protecthisdaughter,andhisownlackofknowledgeintechnology.(Clark,393)Bothofthe
parentssoughtadvicefromtheirsiblings,whohadexperiencewiththeirownchildren,inorder
tounderstandmore.
TheRichards,afamilyofagranddaughterlivingwithhergrandparents,isthethird
familyClarkelaborateson.Thegranddaughter,thegrandparentsclaim,iseasytotrustwith
technologybecausetheyaresecurethatsheknowsrightfromwrong.Thegranddaughteralso
confessesatnotbeingtoodifficultwithtechnology,andisopenandhonestabouthowsheuses
thephoneandcomputers.Clarkclaimsthattheeasytrustthatcomesbetweenthemmighthave
beenassistedbythelimitedmeansinwhichtheyhavetointeractwithtechnology.
Severalmoreinterviewswereexplainedinthearticlebefore,inconjunctionwiththe
extensiveresearchbeforehand,Clarkpresentedherfindings.Oneofthefirstthingsshepresents,
combinedwithpreviousstudies,Clarkstatesthatthenewgenerationsoftentakeforgrantedall
ofthetechnologythatisavailabletothem.Withtheincreasingaccesstotheinternetandthe
widespreaduseofcellphones,andevenmoreassmartphonesarebecomingmoreprevalent,the
waythatparentsexperiencetechnologyinamuchdifferentthatthewaytheirteensdo.AsClark
bringsupthepoint,Aparentmightviewtextingwhenadultsaretalkingasasignofdisrespect,
buttheteenmightthinkthatwhetherornottomultitaskisanindividualpreference(Clark,
389).
Clarkexplainsthatthereisaknowledgegapexistingbetweentheteensandtheirparents,
causingatensionwithinfamilylife,causingmanyparentstoseekadvicefromsiblingsoreven
goingonthedauntinginternetthemselves.Theparentsoftenrespondedtothistypeofconflictin

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awaythatreflectedtheirordinaryparentingstyles.Mostoftheparentsattempttobewarmand
boundarysetting,encouragingtheirteensabilitytodecideforthemselves,atypeofparenting
Clarkcallsauthoritative.Otherparentswouldhavepermissiveparentalauthority,wherethey
wouldavoidconflicts,thistypeofparenting,Clarksays,couldextendintoneglectfulor
uninvolvedbehavior.Shealsomentionsauthoritarianparenting,wheretheparenttendstopunish
teenautonomy.
Throughoutthearticle,Clarkreferencedanotherstudydonein2003byAnnetteLareau
thattheorizedthatparentingstyleswouldbedifferentwhentheywereindifferentsocial
contexts.(Clark,389)Clarkpaidespecialattentiontothepartsofthestudythatattemptedtosee
iftherewasadifferenceinafamilysinteractionwithtechnologywhentheirincomeswere
betweenmiddleclassorworkingclass.Inthestudy,shefoundthatthemiddleclasswould
approachparentingasconcernedcultivation.Lareausstudy,asquotedinthearticlebyClark,
suggests:

...concerned cultivation does seem to have positive outcomes that are claimed in
relation to the authoritative parenting: better outcomes in schooling and employment
prospects, this parenting style cultivates a heightened sense of individualism that is
expressed in entitlement and demands that institutions bend to the individuals
expectations.
(Clark,390)
Contrastingly,Clarkalsosays,gleanedfromLareausstudy,thattheworkingclassfamiliestend
togoforthenaturalgrowthparentingstyle,wherethedecisionsabouttechnologyusageare
usuallyleftuptotheteensthemselves.Quotedinthesameparagraphasbefore::

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...natural growth parenting may not prepare young people as well to advocate for
their own benefit, but it cultivates in young people an ability to manage their own time
and a collective sensibility thatisoftenlackingamongthemiddleclassyoungpeopleshe
observed.
(Clark,390)
Clarkbringsupaparentingstylethat,accordingtoherresearchandstudies,largely
backfires.Manyparentshaveemployedtheyouwantit,youpayforitmethod.However,as
Clarkpointsout,Controloverthecellphonewenthandinhandwithwhopaidthebills.
(Clark,400)Wheneverateenagerwouldviolatearuleormadeabaddecision,parentswhopaid
thebillsfeltthattheyhadarighttorestricttheusageofadevice.Teenagerswhoseparentsdid
payfortheirphonesaidthateventhoughtheyhatedthephonetakenaway,theyconcededthat
theirparentdidhavesomeclaimonthephone.However,ontheflipside,teenagerswhofooted
thewholebillthemselvesfeltthatanyactionsthatwereencroachingontheirpropertywould
reactangrily,tellingtheirparentsthattheyweretheonespayingthebills,sotheirparentshadno
right.Clarksays,thisautonomycamewithapriceforparents,evenifitrelievedthepotential
financialpressureofthecellphonebill,ittransferredacertainamountofauthoritytotheyoung
peoplethemselves.(Clark,400)
IfoundClarksintendedaudienceforthisarticle,basedoffthelanguageandreferences
tomethodsofinterviewing,wasmostlygearedtowardotheracademicswhowishtouseClarks
research,whowouldpossiblybeseekingoutawaytounderstandchildrenbetterthroughthe
worldwideweb.Thisarticlegivesaccuraterepresentationtothedailypowerstrugglethatoften
playsoutineveryhouseholdwithapieceoftechnology.

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Thisarticlepresenteditselfverywell,asClarkwasveryinformativeandwasabletoback
upherownclaimsverywell.Ifoundthattheexperiencesthattheteensgavetotheinterviewers
oftenweresimilartomyownwithinmyownpersonalfamilydynamic.Thisarticlebrought
insightintothedynamicsofotherfamiliesthataresimilar,orcompletelydifferent,fromtheones
thatIamfamiliarwith.Overall,thisarticlewasrelevanttothetimesthatwearelivinginnow,so
theinterestthatthisarticlepresentsisstillvalid,andimportant.

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WorksCited
Clark,LynnSchofield."DigitalMediaAndTheGenerationGap."
Information,Communication
&
Society
12.3(2009):388407.Print.