Context Book Assignment: Hanging Out, Messing around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media

Libraries were originally seen as places for information gathering and self-education through books.  With the rise of the internet, information gathering has become much easier to do at home or on the go via certain mobile devices without setting foot inside of a library.  Because of this, libraries have had to adapt their services in order to still be important in an age that is quickly becoming digital.   The book Hanging Out, Messing Around and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media explores how teens and young adults are utilizing the internet and technology which can help libraries discover what adaptations they can make to better mee the needs of current and future library users growing up with new media. 

In the early chapters of this book hanging out, messing around and geeking out are defined as three different activities that youths engage in online.  Based on interviews the contributing researching conducting with teens, hanging out is described as the desire to “hang around, meet friends, just be” (pp 37).  Teens and young adults enjoy using social media platforms such as Myspace and IM’ing platforms such as AIM to listen to music, communicate with friends and even coordinate in person hangouts with their friends.  Platforms such as Myspace were also used as ways for teens to express their personalities online and share their likes and dislikes allowing them to potentially connect with peers with similar interests who they possibly would have never interacted with in the school halls. For some teens though, hanging out with new media can look a little different, Lisa Tripp provides the example of Michelle a teen in the San Fernando Valley who enjoys going on Myspace to listen to music and talk to friends but also assists her mother with tasks on the internet such as typing an email.  Michelle’s mother Rose’s education only goes up to the 8th grade level and she learns how to use technology from her daughter.  At the same time though, Rose limits her daughters time on social media as she fears Michelle will come into contact with dangerous people online such as child predators.  However, Michelle isn’t worried about that because she makes sure to only communicate with people that she knows in person.  Hanging out virtually is a casual way for teens to connect with one another without focusing on any serious worries while being themselves without their parents getting in the way of their social interactions (for the most part). 

The concept of messing around as defined in this text are teens beginning to develop a more intense engagement with new media. For example, Heather Horst, Becky Herr-Stephenson and Laura Robinson interview a teen named Derrick and how he uses the internet.  Derrick enjoys using Google to learn how to do things such as build PCs. He likes how easy it is to ask Google “how to” questions and then he just does what Google instructs.  Through Google, Derrick learned how to install a video card into his new PC.  Teens also utilize technology to experiment with photo editing tools in order to crop and edit images for their social media profiles. 

Geeking out is described as having an intense commitment or engagement with media or technology often related to a certain fandom group.  Mizuko Ito describes her encounter with a teen named Zalas who is heavily involved in fansubbing video games and electronic visual novels as well as creating anime music videos.  Geeking out also includes teens playing and communicating through MMORPGs. Being involved in an MMORPG community goes beyond more than playing inside the game, the community expands outside in the forms of gaming magazines, even fan art and fan fiction revolving around favored characters within the game.  Where hanging out with new media is considered a more casual affair, messing around and geeking out are more focused affairs for teens that involve experimenting and learning from media and being involved in their fandom communities.

Technology and new media also have a huge part to play when it comes to romantic relationships between teens.  Teens use their phones to talk and text with their significant others and methods such as Skype to video chat with them.  Because of parents, teens feel like they cannot get too much privacy to hang out with or talk with their significant others, so technology and new media helps them do so.  C.J. Pascoe discovered that several teens feel more comfortable talking to their crushes via Myspace or an IM platform because it is easier than having a conversation in person. Confidence grows when not having to face your crush in person. 

This book shows the many ways that teens rely on and use technology and new media. Be it through communicating with one another on where to meet up, or assisting a parent with typing up an email to creating music videos or navigating through a romantic relationship we can see that teens are heavily involved with the internet, media and technology.  Though this book came out in 2010, teens are still using new media today for creative outlets such as creating content via the TikTok application or communicating with friends via SnapChat. 

From reading this book and seeing the behaviors of teens in the libraries I work for both public and academic libraries can benefit from creating a social media platform for their users to connect with each other on and to connect with their library.  Having a social media platform would be a good way for libraries to learn the needs of their users possibly through a post asking their users what kind of services or programs they would like to see in their library.  In the blog post The hyperlinked school library: engage, explore, celebrate Michael Stephens discusses some tools that libraries could use to expand their services.  Tools such as blog posts, Skype and applications like Audacity to record and edit podcasts.  I really like the idea of having the ability to create pod casts in the library because this could be used for teen programming.  The public library I work for does not offer any teen programming and only focuses on children’s programming and very minimal adult programming that offering a podcast program for both teens and adults could be a fun and educational service that would motivate more teen users to use our library.  Library users of all ages use new media and technology for several things and libraries can use this to their advantage with the right mindset.

Itō Mizuko, and Judd Antin. Hanging out, Messing around, and Geeking out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media. MIT Press, 2013.

Stephens, M. (2010, March 2). The hyperlinked school library: engage, explore, celebrate. Tame The


1 Thought.

  1. I want to pick up this book now! Understanding how teens use social media would help all people who work with teens on any level. I have seen such a divide where many adults are scared of teens using technology and instead of working with the teen to balance their use they just ban them. I once heard a podcast where the interviewer (I wish I could remember who/where I heard this) said that teens are on social media and their devices because that is where their friends are and they want to be with their friends. So true!

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