Social networks and teens: Wrecking youth clubs

Social networks may harm the already challenging task of getting young people to join community projects according to a report by Big Lottery Fund Scotland.

While young people interviewed for the report said they were still interested in local face to face group initiatives, many said they preferred to spend time exploring online groups.

A lack of time among teenagers was blamed for the lack of interest, but the report wasn’t all dot doom and gloom. Sites like MySpace, the report said, “gave young people a chance to interact and communicate with other, find out information and learn about new things.”

Fortunately, the report also recognised the value of the web for those in rural areas facing transport issues, as it “gave them a chance to chat with people from long distances who they wouldn’t be able to talk to face-to-face.”

Our two penneth on the report? So much more could be done to build on the huge popularity of online platforms. Even go so far as to partner with them, rather than try to compete with them.

Use them to bring young people together offline at computer clubs. We’re not suggesting Islington Council youth clubs start a flashmob, but why not start some ‘how to’ youth club sessions on modding your MySpace or Bebo profile?

We all want to be popular and get more friends to visit and join our online groups – so show teens how, along with value-ad advice on web safety and walk throughs of local health and career information websites they can explore further in their own time, should the need arise.

Read more about the New Communities report at Big Lottery Fund Scotland