The keynote speeches early on Friday morning alluded to some of the evils of social media, so it was refreshing to hear SYN’s Education and Training Manager, Jonathan Brown, highlighting the benefits and showing that if you don’t quite get the hang of social media at first, then perhaps you should have another crack at it.
The session began with a breakdown of the major social media platforms and some of the ways in which they are used, as well as what benefits you can get from using them.
Facebook: The largest of the social networks with a jack-of-all-trades focus. You can share videos, photos and links to other creative efforts. Listing the people you connect with as friends, however, is slightly misleading, because the connection isn’t quite at that same level.
Twitter: The focus on shorter messages and links is what sets this platform apart. There isn’t the same pressure to add your “friends”, simply follow people who post thought-provoking comments and share your interests.
Instagram: The home of the “selfie”. Usually connected with Twitter or Facebook, Instagram is all about sharing a moment in time with followers across all networks.
Tumblr and other blogging platforms: These work similar to your own website. You can add as much of your own creative content and layout and share creative content that you’ve created.
After listing the various options to make your presence on the internet known, Jonathan provided his five fail-safe tips to ensure that you are on the right platform and doing the right things to get noticed:
Be authentic: act on social media as you would in real life.
Post consistently and diversely: stick to a schedule and mix up your posts. If you tend to post a lot of image content, try a video or text post.
Make it conversational: Unlike mediums such as television, you have the ability to talk to and engage with your audience to make it a more rewarding experience for them as well as for yourself.
Play to your strengths: Ensure you’re focusing on what you are good at. If your strength is writing, try blogging platforms. If you’re more artistic, try a tumblr.
Consume, research and share: If you find something that catches your eye, feel free to share it with others. Be transparent with your sources and start a dialogue.
The session concluded with a feel-good image of cats, encouraging you to feel positive about posting what you enjoy and to have fun with social media.
Technology can provide young people with the support they need outside of business hours.
After Baroness Susan Greenfield discussed some of the issues with social media, CEO of Young & Well Cooperative Research Centre (YAWCRC) Associate Professor Jane Burns, led an interesting workshop on the impact technology has on the mental health and wellbeing of young men in Australia.
Speaking from a personal perspective, Jane’s own 7-year-old son Angus, lives with autism and down syndrome, and relies on an iPad in order to communicate on a day-to-day basis.
A champion for the digital movement, Jane believes that Australia should utilise the technologies available to us today in order to provide youth with more accessible, online mental health services.
She contends that while Australia is one of the leading nations in service provision, we are living in an opportune time to decrease the still apparent disparity in health care in rural societies through mental health professional providing services online, building connections with and between young people.
Working with Movember, Beyond Blue, University of Sydney, and The Black Dog Institute, the YAWCRC conducted a national survey in 2012 to produce a research report on the impact of technologies on young men’s mental health and wellbeing.
Implementing the gold standard of survey-taking, they interviewed 1,400 young men aged 16-25 from all states and territories around Australia, of which 30% were from regional, rural or remote areas, and 2% identified as Indigenous.
Interesting stats from the research:
99% of Australians aged 16-25 y.o. use the internet,
95% of Australians aged 16-25 y.o. use it everyday or almost everyday.
Most are online for 2-4 hours a day,
20% are online for 5+ hours a day.
The top three ways young people use the Internet:
94% email in 2012 (up from 13% in 2008),
93% facebook in 2012 (up from 32% in 2008),
86% YouTube in 2012 (up from 7% in 2008).
How young people use the Internet:
74.8% access the Internet by phone,
69.9% access the Internet by laptop,
34.3% access the Internet by tablet,
30.8% access the Internet by desktop computer.
Where young people use the Internet:
75.9% access it in their bedroom,
56.2% access it in a social setting.
The main issues that concern young men aged 16-25:
47.6% said coping with stress,
26.6% said depression,
26.3% said body image issues,
19.3% said bullying or emotional abuse.
Finally, 42% of young men experience ‘moderate’ to ‘very high’ levels of psychological distress. Young men aged 22 to 25 years consistently reported higher rates of suicidal thoughts.
Almost 1 million young men are experiencing moderate to very high levels of psychological distress. Regardless of psychological distress, use of the internet is almost universal (98%) and in similar frequency. Even with advances in mental health services, young men do not seek help and many young men are not using services until they reach crisis point.
It appears that many men who are experiencing psychological distress tend to go online and use digital tools to express, share, distribute, and discuss their issues with others in a private, confidential setting. This acts as a cathartic tool and mental wellbeing exercise that can translate into their everyday lives.
Jane concluded the workshop by stating that further research needs to be conducted, and more data needs to be collected in order to understand the effects of technology on mental health and wellbeing. She is interested in knowing how we can tap into and use gaming and social media to use and create content for mental health services.
Young people should be at the forefront of change.
This was the sentiment of the 2012 United Nations Youth Representative for Australia, Dan Ryan, in his keynote address Architecting new expectations for youth.
There didn’t seem to be a more appropriate person to speak at the Berry Street Childhood Institutes’s Good Childhood Conference, and Dan provided the floor with an invaluable, youth perspective during the day’s events.
The key issues Dan addressed explored the fundamental question of the conference: what does a sustainable, good childhood look like?
Dan spoke about what fantastic influences he had growing up, being raised and home-schooled through natural learning. No limitations or restrictions were placed on himself or his siblings – what subjects they learnt, what time they woke up, whether their homework got assessed or not, the jobs they could pursue, and so on.
Dan believes that this freedom allowed him and his siblings to make mistakes, learn from them, and develop and grow as people.
Because of natural learning and the influence of making his own decision, Dan believes he has been inspired to live a fulfilled life. He spoke a bit about how failure is a tool for reflection, that it shouldn’t be stigmatised and shamed, but welcomed as a learning curve for young people.
Speaking about his website, Dan outlined the abilities of young people to develop solutions and create change around Australia. On his website, youth can participate by:
Entering a solution they have seen working in their local area;
Browsing, discussing, rating and sharing solutions; and
Following in Dan’s journey as Youth Rep. with stories, surveys, photos and videos exploring issues related to youth.
Dan also touched on the conference’s contentious issue of social media, and claimed that while social media could be an invaluable, innovative tool for youth to learn about and create change, real change comes from people and communities. So long as there is a real community behind a movement, change can be achieved.
Dan’s keynote address concluded that the most important thing is including youth in the decisions that organisations make.
It’s important that we look for those moments, … look for opportunities to include youth in choices so that we can have societal change.
In a series of blog posts we will be reflecting on our new understandings of youth participation after The Good Childhood Conference, as well as some of the feedback we received from conference delegates. We will also report back on practical elements of our youth participation strategy.
Below are some of our initial reflections on the experience, specifically the usefulness of the youth consultations and social media in preparation for the conference.
In regards to youth participation at the conference, we aimed to actively include young people in the conversation about what sustains a good childhood and how we best support those who have not experienced a good childhood. (For more information on our approach, check out our Principles of Youth Participation on the Berry Street Childhood Institute website).
As you may remember, three youth consultants worked with us to engage in a broader consultation with young people about what would create a conference that was engaging and attractive to young people.
Over a two month period the youth consultants met with approximately 80 young people and gathered considerable feedback about what young people would or wouldn’t like.
Outcomes of the Youth Consultations:
Received feedback about what young people would or wouldn’t like at a conference,
Promoted the event in face-to-face sessions with young people,
Provided three youth consultants with workplace training,
Collected data to drive our youth-friendly activities,
Provided motivation for the youth consultants to volunteer at the conference, displaying increased leadership qualities – they also brought their friends,
Developed/improved relationships with community groups, schools, youth groups and clients of Berry Street,
Provided a barometer of youth interest in the conference.
“The youth consultation process has been a positive but challenging experience for me. It put me out of my comfort zone and has helped me improve on my networking and organisation skills.” Laura, Youth Consultant
Promoting Youth Participation
During the youth consultations young people told us that they like to communicate via social media. In the lead up to the conference an 8 week social media strategy was planned in order to promote numerous speaker profiles, interesting topics and reminders about the conference on Twitter and Facebook. Information about youth scholarships offered was posted regularly.
To provide some idea, detailed below are the most popular (shared and/or ‘Liked’) Facebook posts on the Berry Street Childhood Institute page in the lead up to the conference:
789 – Muriel Bamblett August 2013
452 – Youth scholarships announced September 2013
419 – Conference post after day one October 2013
165 – Launch of the conference program August 2013
158 – Kaff-iene the street artist August 2013
Youth participation was also publicised on the conference website, here on the conference blog and in the program. Positive feedback was received about the information available.
Stay tuned for more reflections on youth participation in the coming weeks…
Those of us who are organising The Good Childhood Conference are feeling a mixture of excitement and anxiety (to be honest, terror) as our conference becomes a reality with pre-workshops on today and the conference starting tomorrow, Thursday 11 October.
Now if only we had listened to one of our keynote speakers, Robert Hart from the Resilience Institute, and “ejected stress” and “sustained our energy”!
The pre-conference workshops are seeing three of our conference speakers engaging participants in sessions about drumming, resilience and client case studies respectively.
This breadth of topics reflects the diversity of sessions we’ll be offering at the conference itself over the next two days.
So if you are attending the conference, we are really looking forward to your participation and hope you will join us in the conversation about a good childhood.
We encourage you to follow the seminars and discussions on social media, whether you are able to attend the conference or not.
Young people from SYN Media will be reporting on what they are hearing from our presenters on Twitter so you will be able to keep up with the content and respond to the key themes. The conference hash tag and key accounts are:
#GCConf, follow this hash tag to see all Tweets relevant to the conference and each seminar,
@ChildhoodInst, Tweeting highlights from the SYN Media Tweeters attending each seminar,
@LiveSYN, covering the conference keynotes and seminars live.
After the conference we will be constantly updating this blog with posts written on most of the keynotes, seminars and worshops.
This way, we can let you know in more detail about what our presenters had to say about a good childhood – how it can be sustained and what we need to do for those who have not had a good childhood.
Again, we would be really pleased if you could comment on the blog so we know what you are thinking.