Youth in the Digital Age

Young Lives Research | We examine and support youth wellbeing on a complex planet


STATUS: Completed

This project identified the impacts of digital technology and media on the social and educational lives of young people in Canada, Scotland, and Australia. This interdisciplinary and cross cultural study focused on speaking with a range of young people (settler, Indigenous, immigrant, and youth in risk).


Young people are in social transition to adulthood in digital economies. Their use of digital media has been well documented, but the long term impacts of digital media are under-studied and paradoxical. Little scholarly work has attended to digital media and the four demographics listed above. Working with Dr. John Smyth, of the University of Ballarat in Australia, and Dr. Andy Furlong, of the University of Glasgow in Scotland, Dr. Tilleczek studied youth and adults in three distinct global locations over a five-year period.


How does digital technology influence youth education, social life and wellbeing? Our study examined how digital media influences the social and educational lives of youth, permeating every aspect of wellbeing. The project addresses a dearth of empirical, theoretical, policy/practice and public engagement on the place of digital media in the wellbeing of youth over time.

We found that it ubiquitously operates through digital ecologies as (a) worldviews that suggests its necessity and public good, and (b) myriad of gadgets, Internet of Things, AI, Apps and social media platforms. Young people living within digital ecologies, experience them as deeply paradoxical and a source of unease; they both value and question the digital society seeing opportunities for social connection, access to information, engagement and activism while simultaneously noting problems in becoming asocial, controlled, addicted/anxious, less educated. They are concerned about privacy breaches, loss of quality education, disinformation and exposure to “nasty humanity”. Youth are critical barometers of if/how digital society is working. We are poised to continue to explored emerging trends in the wake of the COVID pandemic’s economic challenges, school closures, “the new age of digital learning” and digital social life. What are the newest problems and possibilities of digital media for youth education and wellbeing?  This study provided the tools and data upon which we are building new projects. 



Tilleczek, K., & Campbell, V.M. (Eds).  (2019). Youth in the digital age: Paradox, promise, predicament. Abingdon, UK, Routledge (Taylor and Francis) Publishing.

News Article

Tilleczek, K. (2019). Youth have a love-hate relationship with digital tech in the age of the Anthropocene. The Conversation, Summer Edition, 2019.

Book Chapter

Tilleczek, K., & Srigley, R. (2017). Young cyborgs? Youth in the digital age. In A. Furlong (Ed.), Routledge Handbook of Youth and Young Adulthood (2nd ed., pp. 273-284). Routledge: New York, NY.


Tilleczek, K.  (2020, March).  Youth have love/hate relationships with digital technology in the Anthropocene.  Invited presentation at the Tech for Good Canada’s Citizen E-Salon:  Youth in the Digital Age, Free to Swim – or Sink? Toronto, March 26th.

Tilleczek, K.  (2019, September).  Youth in/of the Anthropocene.  Invited keynote discussion for Inaugural Conference Youth in/of the Anthropocene, Bilbao Spain, September 5-7, 2019.

Tilleczek, K. (2018, July). Digital capital in late modernity: Andy Furlong’s legacy.   Invited keynote panel for The Legacy of Andy Furlong Panel:  Sociology of Youth (RC34) The World Congress of the International Sociological Association.  Toronto, Canada, July 15-21, 2018.

Tilleczek, K.  (2017, December). The digital age and youth wellbeing: Digital media and young lives over time and place.  Invited keynote panel for Canadian Institutes for Advanced Research (CIFAR) workshop on Adolescent development and wellbeing in low and middle-income countries (LMICS).  University of Oxford, Oxford UK, Lady Margaret Hall (December 12-15).

Tilleczek, K.  (2017, October).  Resistance is futile!  Young cyborgs & warriors in the digital age. Keynote Address Child & Youth Engagement:  Civic Literacies and Digital Ecologies. Social Justice Research Centre and Department of Child and Youth Studies, Brock University, St Catherine’s, Canada. October 12-13, 2017. 

Bell, B. Tilleczek, K. & Munro, M. (2017, May). Intersections of mental health and digital media in young lives.  Canadian Association of Health Services and Policy Research Hilton Hotel:  Toronto Canada  See the CAHSPR poster here.

Munro, M, Tilleczek, K. & Bell, B. (2019, October) Youth Wellbeing and Digital Media.  Paper presented at Fifth International Association on Youth Mental Health Conference, Melbourne, Australia, October, 2019.

Tilleczek, K. (2018, June).  Youth, digital media & well-being. Paper presented at the 43rd Annual Conference of the Caribbean Studies Association, Havana, Cuba, June 4-8, 2018. 

Bell, B., Tilleczek, K., & Munro, M. (2017, September). Digital media & youth mental health: Youth, parent, and service provider perspectives. Presentation presented at the Fourth International Conference on Youth Mental Health, Dublin, Ireland, September 24-26, 2017.

Tilleczek, K., & Tilleczek, E. (2016, July). Young cyborgs:  Rituals of resistance to technology.  Paper presented at International Sociological Association World Forum,Vienna, Austria, July 10-14, 2016.

Tilleczek, K., & Srigley, R. (2013, April). Young lives in techno-utopia: Discerning the borg in youth studies.  Paper presented at Journal of Youth Studies Conference, University of Glasgow, Scotland.

Tilleczek, K., & Srigley, R. (2012, August). Technology’s paradox:  Theorizing digital media and young lives.  Paper presented at International Sociological Association Forum on Sociology:  Youth cultures and new social movements in the context of the digital revolution, Buenos Aries, Argentina.

White Papers

Loebach, J., & Madigan, R. (2015). Collecting Social Media Data for Qualitative Research (Research Shorts Series #2). Charlottetown, PE: Young Lives Research Lab, University of Prince Edward Island.

Bell, B.L., & Campbell, V. (2014). Dyadic Interviews in qualitative research (Research Shorts Series #1). Charlottetown, PE: Young Lives Research Lab, University of Prince Edward Island.