"Teens, Technology, and Transportation"
In the face of increasing sprawl and car-dependence in US metropolitan areas, young people - especially teens in middle-class suburbs – may be experiencing new mobilities generated by their near-universal adoption of cellphones and increasing access to private automobiles. The growth in the adoption of hand-held mobile devices that can be used for communication and information may enhance accessibility and independent mobility for certain segments of the youth population, especially those in higher socio-economic status households. In a project with teens in two high schools in Chittenden County, Vermont, we used a mix of methods to explore the rapid changes in teens' lives fostered by tools such as cell phones, texting, mobile internet access, and various forms of messaging. In this study, we find that millennial teens use digital devices to construct new intersections between communication, information, and transportation. By also actively employing these devices in our research, we are using novel methods for understanding the 'digital lives' of teens, which represent a mix of traditional analog techniques and exploratory digital methodologies. In this presentation we examine issues including how often and in what ways high school students use advanced electronic communication tools to arrange transportation, what travel needs are being met and modes used, and how social processes contextualize the use of digital tools for mobility. We conclude by reflecting on how the daily lives of these teens may serve as a harbinger of emerging intersections of mobility, communication, and place.