Friday, October 11, 2013

Exosystem and Macrosystem Impact within the Digital Divide: Part IV

The indirect impact of a digital world influences people through the exosystem.  Examples of how an ecosystem impacts an adolescents life is seen through advances in school technologies, changes in government standards, issues at parents workplaces, or significant technology advancements. Effects of the exosystem on adolescents may seem subtle but the impact can disrupt their lives in profound ways. The difficulty is in understanding the indirect nature of consequences impacting the adolescent.

 An adolescent girl is having behavior problems at school. There is an IEP meeting to discuss the issue. After the meeting one of the teachers gets a funny mass e-mail from a teacher’s aide. The teacher’s aide works with the teenage girl, so the teacher replies giving her the specifics of the meeting, the girl’s first name, and her opinions about how this girl will always have problems and is a troublemaker. Instead of “reply”, she hits “reply all.” Now the entire school is informed of the meeting and the teachers’ opinions about the teenage girl. How does this affect other teachers’ behaviors with this girl? This exosystem impacts the behavior of other’s toward her without her knowing. 

The macrosystem is the development of values and beliefs based upon the societal experiences of a person. Societal experiences can come from areas of culture, type of government, SES, or geographical area. This person interprets their understanding of these values and beliefs and forms the structure of how they understand the workings of their world. Past and present experiences map the filter of people and their perceptions of events. 

A child, who is from a Latino family, experiences a digital divide in his life due to negative attitudes his family has about technology. Culturally, his parents and grandparents do not believe in using technology. His family believes technology takes away from the collectivist nature of their culture.  His grandmother says “I see how other families don’t pay attention to each other because of computers. You don’t want this for your family do you?” The mother and father have cell phones for communication.  After much begging, the father buys the boy a Nintendo 64 at GameStop for his birthday because it is in the family budget. The boy cannot use any of the games his friends play. When he invites his friends over, they laugh at him over how old his system is compared to theirs. The boy begins to distance himself from those friends and transitions to others who don’t have access to the latest digital toy. Fast forward in the boy’s life to his first job at 15 years old. He finds that many of the mechanisms in the job are computerized.  Easily frustrated with the computer, he quits because of feeling inadequate. How is the digital divide manifesting in his life? How could this impact the boy’s self-efficacy? Big data collectors do not have statistics on this type of family, how are they represented economically, socially, or politically?


If we look at big data, Internet activity is followed by companies to advertise specifically toward a child’s economic, political, or social behavior. Due to the lack of government guidelines with big data, children can be manipulated without knowing it is happening. This type of macrosystem interaction is all in digital form. PC’s, phones, video games, are building in the technology to track movements and usage. The impact of this future is unclear and troubling.  We do know children will be more vulnerable to manipulation through this type of direct marketing. How will it change their lens of society?

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The Ecology of Human Development: Experiments by Nature and Design. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1994). Ecological models of human development. International Encyclopedia of Education, 3(2),

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Mesosystems and Student Self Efficacy: Part III

Two microsystems coming together form a mesosystem. These systems are a connection between two microsystems in an adolescent’s life.  The influence these connections make can form a divide in a digital relationship.  There are two areas specific to technology’s impact with the behavior between adolescent microsystems, access, and behavior when participating.  Much has been researched about the positive and negative effects of technology tools on adolescent behavior (Ernst, 2013; Ives; 2012; Lepisto, 2012).

There is an absence of research on the socioeconomic impact on adolescents not growing up with access to technological systems.  If a family is economically disadvantage, not having a computer or game councils in the home, how does this impact an adolescent when they visit peers with these devices? Are their more bullying behaviors, socialization issues, economic impact as the child grows older due to lack of parental digital literacy?  Schools offer computer hours after school, but marginalized adolescents may have no transportation home to utilize these hours. Digitally literate students have years of experience with technological systems and tools. If students become intrinsically motivated to pursue information due to digital games how does this translates to the motivation systems of students without access?

Hsieh, Cho, Liu, and Schallert (2008) studied the self-efficacy of goal completion with middle school students in technology integrated curriculums. Self-efficacy has been studied as a predictor of academic motivation and achievement in STEM courses (Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2009). Students in technology enhanced learning environments exhibited a significantly increased level of self-efficacy and motivation towards goal achievement in science courses (Hsieh et al., 2008). Not only were these areas affected, but their overall scores were higher.

Important questions for understanding the digital divide in an adolescent’s mesosystem.
1.     How does the adolescent adapt when teachers give technology assignments to students without access?
2.     Do teachers evaluate access of individual students in the classroom?
3.     What other areas of a student’s interactions are placed at risk due to lack of technology access? Friendships with other adolescents who have a higher self-efficacy due to access?
4.     In students lacking reliable access for years, how does this affect their connections to higher education, livable wage employment, understanding economic advantages available through the Internet, or socialization experience?

The integration of these systems in a student’s life brings more questions than answers. Evaluation of this divide with marginalized students brings awareness of the problem and constructive solutions to bridge the digital gap between the systems in their lives. Social work can advance solutions for this population by developing solutions for the systems impacting students’ lives.

Ernst, J. V., & Moye, J. J. (2013). Social Adjustment of At-Risk Technology Education Students. Journal Of Technology Education, 24(2), 2-13.
Hsieh, P., Cho, Y., Liu, M., & Schallert, D. L. (2008). Middle School Focus: Examining the Interplay between Middle School Students Achievement Goals and Self-Efficacy in a Technology-Enhanced Learning Environment. American Secondary Education, 36(3), 33-50.
Ives, E. A. (2012, October 1). iGeneration: The Social Cognitive Effects of Digital Technology on Teenagers. Online Submission,
Lepisto, B. (2012). MySpace, Your Space, Whose Space? The Use/Abuse of Technology in the Treatment of an Adolescent. Journal Of Infant, Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy, 11(2), 113-120. doi:10.1080/15289168.2012.673405