How to make your voice heard through social media

Jonathan Brown, SYN Education and Training Manager
Jonathan Brown, SYN Education and Training Manager

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.

Jonathan Brown

 

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.

Post written by a youth blogger from SYN Media.

The boys need us: technology & the mental health & wellbeing of young men

Associate Professor Jane Burns

 

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.

Jane Burns, CEO of Young & Well Cooperative Research Centre
Jane Burns, CEO of Young & Well Cooperative Research Centre

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.

Associate Professor Jane Burns

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. 

Post written by a youth blogger from SYN Media.

Young people transitioning from out of home care in VIC

Associate Professor Philip Mendes
Associate Professor Philip Mendes

“Young people with disabilities are facing huge challenges when leaving Out of Home Care.”

On Friday, the second day of the conference, Associate Professor Philip Mendes from Monash University presented the findings of a study into this transitional period.

Philip said his study confirmed that young people leaving care are more vulnerable to poorer outcomes. He drew comparisons with the wider community, highlighting many young people don’t leave the homes of their parents until they are aged 25 and of those who do leave home by 18, a large portion continue to receive some sort of support from their family.

This is in stark contrast to young people with disabilities who are leaving Out of Home Care at age 18 and are often not ready to be fully independent for a variety of reasons.

There is minimal research about how many young people are in care, or what types of disabilities they live with, but it appears there is an over representation of children with a disability.

The findings of the study concluded:

  • Young people with disabilities are not experiencing planned transitions from care and are not receiving the care they need.
  • Young people are sometimes transitioned into aged care facilities.
  • The system is crisis driven.
  • Inadequate funding results in a lack of accommodation options and support services for young people with disabilities.
  • Young people’s participation in their leaving care plan is hampered by the lack of resources and services.
  • The sudden transition from statutory children’s services to voluntary adult disability services is problematic for some young people.

“After transitioning from care, young people with disabilities should have ongoing monitoring and support”

Associate Professor Philip Mendes

Philip continued to explain the situation for young people with undiagnosed disabilities, borderline disabilities and mental illness was also dire. They ‘fall through the net’ and are often left worse off than those with significant diagnosed disability.

“The most common type of disability is mental illness and yet young people with mental illness are not eligible for disability services,” he said.

Philip’s presentation highlighted how a sector that is underfunded is not providing the level of care and support a vulnerable group of people need. The process of leaving out-of-home care is fraught with difficulties, as one can imagine.

Perhaps the most important finding from Philip’s study:

“After transitioning from care, young people with disabilities should have ongoing monitoring and support”

For more information on how young people are affected, read this great article from The Age on Chantelle’s story of leaving care with a mental illness.

Post written by a youth blogger from SYN Media.

Youth perspectives & leadership – A Youth Panel

Youth Panel

Day 1 of the Good Childhood Conference 2013 wrapped with a youth panel consisting of four young people, all of whom work actively in areas relating to youth affairs and leadership. Facilitated by UN Youth Representative 2012, Dan Ryan, the panelists discussed issues related to modern childhoods from their own experiences and work, and answered various questions posed by Dan and the audienceThe panel was made up of:

  1. Marlee-Alice Gorman of the Victorian Student Representative Council (VicSRC) who’s been described as “the most compassionate speaker Parliament House has ever seen”.
  2. Sarah Faithful of the Young & Well Cooperative Research Centre, Youth Brains Trust, who is interested in utilising technology to improve mental health and well-being in young people.
  3. Crystal Goetz, A Mirabel Foundation Youth Ambassador, who is passionate about a world that is fair for all.
  4. And, Linh Do, a Melbourne-based social change advocate.
Marlee-Alice Gorman
Marlee-Alice Gorman

The panelists spoke eloquently and honestly about their interests, passions and opinions regarding topics facing youth today:

  • On the (often negative) perceptions of youth in society the panelists all agreed “I’m gonna defy this stereotype of me”,
  • In regards to the boundaries that young people face Crystal argued that “You need to be allowed to make bad decisions”,
  • And, when asked what they would tell their 10 year old self if they had the chance, Marlee summed it up perfectly saying “What the other kids think about me doesn’t matter”.

There was united consensus among the panel on the notion of treating young people as equals and a strong belief in the idea that anyone is able to change the world.

Melbourne based social change advocate Linh Do.
Melbourne based social change advocate Linh Do.

Connect with the organisations or young people on Twitter:

Victorian SRC @VicSRC // Young & Well CRC @yawcrc // Mirabel Foundation @MirabelFndation // Linh Do @lmdo

Post written by a youth blogger from SYN Media.

UN Youth Rep for Australia: Dan Ryan

Dan Ryan

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 Ryan and his siblings
Dan Ryan speaking about his childhood and siblings.

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 Ryan

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.

Post written by youth blogger from SYN Media.

Outdoor adventure experiences for vulnerable adolescents: what are the benefits?

Helen SkouterisIf we keep having this top down effect where ‘mum says’, ‘school says’ and ‘society says’, we’re not really making our young people active agents of change.

On an annual basis, thousands of adolescents participate in outdoor adventure programs that usually aim to connect these young people with their peers and nature.

When Associate Professor of Psychology Helen Skouteris started her research into these programs she found that it crossed over different areas of study such as socio-emotional development, cognitive development and obesity and weight gain. She also found that the benefits of participating in outdoor adventure programs are not limited to vulnerable adolescents.

Benefits of participation in outdoor activity programs include gaining a sense of belonging and growing an understanding the social environment. We can see how these would be hugely beneficial to vulnerable adolescents who are also enabled, through these programs, to achieve social goals, build trusting and meaningful relationships, meet more people and learn to control anger.

Hiking on the Gippsland Wilderness Program
Young people on the Gippsland Wilderness Program are encouraged to challenge their boundaries.

There are so many skills to be gained from this type of participation, including cognitive (e.g. problem solving), emotional (e.g. forming relationships) and physical (e.g. canoeing or hiking).

The outdoor environment pushes young people out of their comfort zones and allows them to take on responsibility and become an active agent of change for their own wellbeing and that is hugely beneficial to all adolescents!

Canoeing on the Gippsland Wilderness ProgramCanoeing on the Gippsland Wilderness Program
Canoeing on the Gippsland Wilderness Program

Post written by youth blogger from SYN Media.

A Vision for Young Australians in the 21st Century

Jan Owen AM

 

Courage.
Imagination.
Will.
3.1 million young Australians have this.

“it is indisputable that we’re living in a world that’s changing”

 

 

CEO of the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA), Jan Owens AM explains how young Australians today have much of the attitude, beliefs and tools required to thrive and excel in life and work.

However, they still require strong support from key organisations and their communities.

Drawing from her theory of the Where’s Wally Effect (or, as some media put it, the ‘mental health epidemic’) Jan raised the question of whether due to the changing world we’re losing who we are, who we’re identifying as and where we fit in society.

Imagine a world where everyone’s ‘Wally’; we’re all the same, we all blend in and we’ve lost our unique point of difference.

However, though the 21st century may be creating a more “blended in” society, studies have shown that in fact, young people now more than ever connect to their families, stay at home longer, have a closer circle of friends and live both local and global lives simultaneously.

It’s also shown that young people now have the attitude to adapt well to changing environments and that adults are projecting their own inabilities onto them.

FYA works with hundreds of thousands of children all around the world. In a movement to “create a world class outward-looking education system, one that connects young people to the real world”, Jan presented the idea to “future-proof our young people”.

Hoping to generate job creators not job seekers within our youth, Jan brought to the table the fact that young people will have 15-20 jobs in their lifetime, with 10 of the top jobs available to them today having not existed in 2004.

But it’s not only jobs that Jan wants to help encourage throughout the 21st century youth. There is also the movement to encourage the “reimagining of what volunteering looks like” among young people and organisations.

One such organisation is Young People Without Borders, a program that enables young people to volunteer just one day at a time. The motivation for this? That “over time we will see tens of thousands of young people volunteering who wouldn’t have”.

Jan Owen is “optimistic about the youth” and believes “they have the skills and attitudes to shape the places they live in and the drive to make change”.

If there is one piece of advice she’s willing to spread, it’s that she “encourages you to be optimistic too”.

You can follow Jan on twitter at @JanOwenAM or @FYA_org_au

“There is a new generation of young people in this country…young people that are leading movements for change”

By: SYN Media blogger