Youth & Social Media: Moving Beyond Recreation

Working with a Digital Literacy program for youth has provided me a window to observe the ways in which youth utilize (or don’t) use social technologies. What I have found is that they are quite savvy with social media however their perceptions of its potential and social utility are narrow.  In other words,  teens tend to use social media primarily for recreation which includes posting pictures, sharing funny content and stream of consciousness updates about their lives. As an advocate of youth empowerment I had been trying to find ways to incorporate social media as a tool for civic engagement . Working with youth in different arenas I have seen first hand that they often underestimate their power as citizens. Likely because they are unsure of how to initiate creating a dialogue about social issues that matter to them. So when I was offered opportunities to create workshops around social media I saw this as a perfect opportunity to encourage them to re-envision their perceptions of  the capacity of social media. I was given the privilege to facilitate two workshops for the Community Services Department:

Workshop 1-Using Social Media and Technology to Build Your Professional Network.

Event: “Life After Raleigh Summer Youth Employee” Training

This young lady approached me, after the workshop on using social media to enhance professional networks, to say that she was inspired by me and the presentation!

This young lady approached me, after the workshop to say that she was inspired by me and the presentation!

Presentation Objectives:

  • Discuss basic professional networking essentials
  • Provide tips on maintaining a “Positive Digital Footprint”
  • Show examples of youth using social media to make a meaningful impact
  • Share resources that will help them create a digital portfolio for their “Professional Digital Footprint”

Workshop 2-Youth Voices: Community and Civic Engagement through Technology-Workshop Description

Event: 10th Annual Raleigh Neighborhood Exchange

I am working with one my former youth employees to facilitate the workshop.

Working with one of my awesome former youth employees to facilitate the workshop.

Presentation Objectives:

  • Discuss the value of traditional/social technologies
  • Share examples of youth driven initiatives
  • Encourage discussion around social issues
  • Empower them to see their potential as social innovators
  • Create an interactive activity centered on technology and social good

Overall take home message?

Through these sessions I found that youth:

  • Want to be actively engaged and want to be heard but often don’t know how to start
  • Are more confident in their “power”  and potential when given the resources
  • Feel empowered simply by seeing their peers use social/traditional technology for good
  • See the link between community and technology but are still learning how ta tap into that connection

What the workshops have taught me is that:

  • Interactive activities are important in maintaining interest
  • Guided discussion throughout encourages reflection
  • Relatable examples makes the information more seem realistic and the possibility of creating change more feasible
  • Always provide the resources discussed to give youth time to explore