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Role of Social Media To Build Youth Capacity


Social Media : Friend or Foe??

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Nowadays social media plays an important role in youths life. The vast majority of youths in the world are daily social media users. There are countless of social networking sites that have created broad connections among teens. For example, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Skype, YouTube, and the like are used quite frequently. According to Shea Bennett, one out of every seven minutes spent online is on Facebook. But does social media have positive impact on teens? To me the answer is yes. For the vast majority of teens, the overall impact on social media has been positive (Ride out). Social media helps teens stay connected to each other even if they are a thousand miles away, and it keeps us up to date with what’s going on around the world and so on. Social media has positive impact on teens in many ways.

Social Media (SM) plays an increasingly vital role in the lives of many young people and presents them with both opportunities and risks. Many of the reasons young people may encounter risks through SM have roots outside of the technology, in issues of young people’s personal and social development. Young people need support to develop the appropriate skills and resilience to navigate online social networking risks an opportunities. Peer groups need chances to negotiate and develop shared understandings of safe and reasonable online behaviour patterns.

Youth Work can play a key role in supporting young people to navigate the risks and exploit the opportunities of SM like online social networking. Youth work can provide space for young people to reflect upon their online activity, and to develop their ‘media literacy’. Proactive youth work engagement with SM offers an alternative to information campaigns (which have limited demonstrable behavior change impact) and to blanket blocking of SM sites (which can risk burying potential problems). Both as professionals and as approachable adults who young people can talk to, youth workers can offer:

-Individual interventions to address risk behaviours, or to encourage the take up of opportunities, based upon existing youth work relationships;
-Group work to support the development of a shared understandings and practices in groups and to support young        people in supporting their peers.
-Reflective learning opportunities for young people to develop media literacy.

Online social networking tools can be used to complement existing youth work activities, as core tools for youth workers, to explore new models of youth work and to promote youth services to young people;
However, the access to technology, and the skills and knowledge base that will allow youth work to perform this important informal education role is not yet widespread.

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