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Latino Youth as Information Leaders: Implications for Family Interaction and Civic Engagement in Immigrant Communities
Unformatted Document Text:  Information Leaders twisted thumbs. Parents responded with shrugs and sheepish smiles. A recurrent theme was the advantages that youth possess over parents in language acuity, comprehension of American culture, comfort with social media, and enthusiasm for mobile media. We began to sense a crisis of parenting, or perhaps a near crisis. Said one father: When I was young, I would always say that my dad had no idea of what he was talking about, and now our children are thinking the same. All we are doing is trying to protect them. The discussion turned poignant when the adolescent girls, and two women in their early 20s, talked about leaving home for college. One of the women observed: In our family, you leave the house when you are getting married or you are 30 ... When my brother decided to go to CU he moved here by himself when he was 17, but then the whole family followed a year later. I think that the whole education and leaving the nest is really hard for Hispanic families. The other woman explained that she is beginning medical school. When she obtains a medical license, around the age of 30, her parents will expect her to move back home. She smiled at the notion, but also appeared sympathetic to her parents’ desire to maintain family unity. The second focus group was held at Angevine Middle School in Lafayette, and included two mothers, one father, one adolescent girl, and 10 undergraduate coaches from CU (five women, five men). Participants were Anglo with the exception of a Native American mother. We were unable to recruit Latinos, but all of the coaches mentored Latino students. This time, with only one teenager present, we solicited from adults a certain degree of vulnerability in their roles as parents. They appeared intrigued—mesmerized in some cases—in talking about the media prowess of children. One mother was typical in conveying a mixture of pride and bewilderment: 17

Authors: McDevitt, Mike. and Butler, Mary.
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Information Leaders
twisted thumbs. Parents responded with shrugs and sheepish smiles. 
A recurrent theme was the advantages that youth possess over parents in language acuity, 
comprehension of American culture, comfort with social media, and enthusiasm for mobile 
media. We began to sense a crisis of parenting, or perhaps a near crisis. Said one father: 
When I was young, I would always say that my dad had no idea of what he was talking 
about, and now our children are thinking the same. All we are doing is trying to protect  
them. 
The discussion turned poignant when the adolescent girls, and two women in their early 20s, 
talked about leaving home for college. One of the women observed:
In our family, you leave the house when you are getting married or you are 30 ...
When my brother decided to go to CU he moved here by himself when he was 17, but 
then the whole family followed a year later. I think that the whole education and leaving  
the nest is really hard for Hispanic families.
The other woman explained that she is beginning medical school. When she obtains a medical 
license, around the age of 30, her parents will expect her to move back home. She smiled at the 
notion, but also appeared sympathetic to her parents’ desire to maintain family unity.  
The second focus group was held at Angevine Middle School in Lafayette, and included 
two mothers, one father, one adolescent girl, and 10 undergraduate coaches from CU (five 
women, five men). Participants were Anglo with the exception of a Native American mother. We 
were unable to recruit Latinos, but all of the coaches mentored Latino students. This time, with 
only one teenager present, we solicited from adults a certain degree of vulnerability in their roles 
as parents. They appeared intrigued—mesmerized in some cases—in talking about the media 
prowess of children. One mother was typical in conveying a mixture of pride and bewilderment:
17


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