Is social media messing up today’s teens? Adults, it seems, love to pontificate on the benefits and ills of emerging internet-based communication platforms on young people. But how often do they bother to listen to the teenagers they claim to be concerned about?
Well, this is their chance.
Over this past week, the members of my daughter’s YouTube collaboration channel Fellowship of the Ning have recorded their thoughts on camera, and provided a candid and personal perspective of how social media is affecting their lives.
This is essential viewing for anyone who speaks or writes about teenagers and social media.
There’s quite a lot to get through – you need to set aside some quality time to watch all the videos (remembering of course that each video maker set aside an awful lot more quality time to make these for you to watch). And you have to remember that these are teens talking about their own concerns in their own voice to their peers – you are a guest in their world. You also have to remember that this group only represent a subset of teen internet users.
Nevertheless, the videos paint a very different picture of social media and teens that you get from many supposedly expert commentators.
By way of background, last week, my daughter Jade posted this short video, asking the channel’s subscribers to share their thoughts on social media:
She asked three specific questions:
1. Why is social media important to you?
2. How has it changed you or your life?
3. What is your response to these articles:
[I pointed her toward the articles and talked with her about the questions, but that was pretty much the limit of my involvement here]
Over the next week, her five collaborators responded, each with their own unique style and perspective – followed by Jade’s own response.
I have my favorites of course. But without exception, each one leaves me humbled by the honesty, insight and sophistication expressed. No-one – no-one – who talks with assumed authority on social media and teenagers should do so without first viewing these, and the many other videos out there made by teens for teens on what is important to them, and why.
Jade (USA, with a UK bias)
If you know of other YouTube videos of teens talking to teens about social media, please post in the comments. Thanks!
Update 8/25/11 – Link to LA Times piece now working!