Our Vision for Youth & Media
Youth media has existed for more than 30 years. Youth media activities involve constructivist techniques that are ideally suited for engaging youth in explorations of personal and community issues while at the same time cultivating cognitive skills. Youth media organizations have been highly effective at supporting the creation of unique, independent media that speaks for youth interests and issues. Most programs also promote the development of critical media analysis, requiring youth to question media content and bias, explore their own unique relationship to mainstream messages, and engage in dialogue with community members, media producers, and other stakeholders. Young people's media products speak to both targeted and broader audiences about youth needs and interests.
Today the wide availability of digital media production equipment affords more youth the opportunity to experiment with the creative process. At the same time, more and more educators are recognizing that today's education and employment landscape requires a new skill set for full participation: young people need to blend technical skill, critical thinking, collaboration, and academic accomplishment to truly excel, and employers seek workers who are innovative, adept at multitasking, and able to analyze and integrate diverse sources of information.
We at YouthLearn believe that youth media and technology programs employ a distinct and vital set of practices that, if adopted by the broader youth development community, could both expand young peoples' opportunities for creative self-expression and bolster their ability to respond to 21st century realities. Given this belief, YouthLearn is developing rich practice-driven programmatic and research services for youth development organizations to support their work in youth media.
The cornerstone of this work was a technical assistance project we did for Time Warner, Inc., assisting their youth media grantees with developing their capacity to plan and conduct program evaluation. By helping youth media practitioners better articulate the benefits of their programs, this project promoted the adoption of new youth development practices across a range of formal and informal learning environments.