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Latino Youth as Information Leaders: Implications for Family Interaction and Civic Engagement in Immigrant Communities
Unformatted Document Text:  Information Leaders socialization—for themselves, siblings, and parents—by altering the structure of communication in immigrant families. Compared with parents, youth more readily embrace mobile technology and participate in social media (Rideout, Foehr, & Roberts, 2010). In Latino communities, a digital divide is particularly apparent when comparing Internet and cell-phone use of foreign- born adults and native-born youth (Livingston, 2010). And while many young Latinos listen to music in Spanish and English, television viewing tends to be in English only. More generally speaking, young Latinos are often exposed to information ecologies beyond the access and comprehension of immigrant parents. For our purposes, information ecology refers to patterns of media use in conjunction with networks in which people exchange ideas, knowledge, and perspectives (Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy, 2009). When youth enrich the family as a setting for information exchange, they essentially expand overlap between their information ecologies and those of parents. This dynamic is readily seen in language brokering, when youth mediate interactions across linguistic boundaries (Dorner, Orellana, & Jiménez, 2008; Dorner, Orellana, & Li- Grining, 2007). Parents typically support children in translation tasks in the negotiation of meaning: “Translating and interpreting are not solitary activities; they are social and relational events in which families engage together and in relation to society” (Dorner et al., 2008, p. 538). The civic agency of youth as information leaders is also evident in students’ bridging of classrooms with living rooms (McDevitt & Ostrowski, 2009; Vercellotti & Matto, 2010). Evaluations of Kids Voting USA illustrate how school discussion spills over into the family, trigging a sequence of “trickle-up influence” in Latino families (project, 2009). Students in the K-12 program participate in peer-centered activities such as debates about ballot propositions. In an initial field experiment, low-income adolescents in San Jose, California gained the most from 5

Authors: McDevitt, Mike. and Butler, Mary.
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Information Leaders
socialization—for themselves, siblings, and parents—by altering the structure of communication 
in immigrant families. Compared with parents, youth more readily embrace mobile technology 
and participate in social media (Rideout, Foehr, & Roberts, 2010). In Latino communities, a 
digital divide is particularly apparent when comparing Internet and cell-phone use of foreign-
born adults and native-born youth (Livingston, 2010). And while many young Latinos listen to 
music in Spanish and English, television viewing tends to be in English only. More generally 
speaking, young Latinos are often exposed to information ecologies beyond the access and 
comprehension of immigrant parents. For our purposes, information ecology refers to patterns of 
media use in conjunction with networks in which people exchange ideas, knowledge, and 
perspectives (Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy, 
2009). When youth enrich the family as a setting for information exchange, they essentially 
expand overlap between their information ecologies and those of parents.
This dynamic is readily seen in language brokering, when youth mediate interactions 
across linguistic boundaries (Dorner, Orellana, & Jiménez, 2008; Dorner, Orellana, & Li-
Grining, 2007). Parents typically support children in translation tasks in the negotiation of 
meaning: “Translating and interpreting are not solitary activities; they are social and relational 
events in which families engage together and in relation to society” (Dorner et al., 2008, p. 538).
The civic agency of youth as information leaders is also evident in students’ bridging of 
classrooms with living rooms (McDevitt & Ostrowski, 2009; Vercellotti & Matto, 2010). 
Evaluations of Kids Voting USA illustrate how school discussion spills over into the family, 
trigging a sequence of “trickle-up influence” in Latino families (project, 2009). Students in the 
K-12 program participate in peer-centered activities such as debates about ballot propositions. In 
an initial field experiment, low-income adolescents in San Jose, California gained the most from 

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