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Hidden Youth?: The Sociality of Young People "Withdrawn" in the Bedroom in a Digital Age

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Tellef S. Raabe.

This presentation critically discusses the sociality of young people who physically shut themselves in the bedroom and do not go outside for months and years on end. This emerging phenomenon is commonly referred to as “hidden youth” and has become one of the most topical issues in East Asia. However, this issue remains under-researched and has limited recognition outside of the Far East. This talk will present insights from the first study of this phenomenon in the UK and Scottish context while studying this comparatively across two sites.

The presentation will question common interpretations of “hidden” young people as withdrawn from society and challenges assumptions of their self-seclusion and loneliness inside the bedroom. This reclusive depiction will be contested by drawing on recent theoretical debates on social connectedness in the digital age. This argument will be explored with interview data from a qualitative study conducted with young people “hidden” in the bedroom for 3-48 months in Hong Kong and Scotland. Through this study, hidden youth’s sociality was found to be more nuanced than previously assumed. This presentation argues technology and online networks can play an especially important role to enable marginalised young people to feel more connected. Young people can become attached to online communities as a reaction to their experiences of increasing precarity and marginalisation in society. The talk will prompt us to reflect more generally on the impact of technology on society and calls for more debates on the complexities of human sociality in the digital age.

This talk is part of the Cambridge Technology & New Media Research Cluster series.

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