Archive for the 'Youth' Category

Let the children speak


Not to belabor the point, but sometimes adults could use a good metaphorical spanking. Watch and listen as this child speaks from the heart about state of the world to a UN panel of so-called grown-ups.

Sphere: Related Content

Rebooting the classroom with DIY social networks

Anastasia Goodstein of YPulse and author of Totally Wired refers to a great article in Wired about how some classrooms are getting smart about incorporating online social networks rather than resisting them. At the center of this paradigm shift is an interesting software package, Elgg. I think the idea of a DIY social network in your classroom could get students to direct more energy and attention to what is happening in the class program than outside of it.

Here Goodstein discusses some ways teachers could jump to the new paradigm in an imaginary Web 2.0 bootcamp:

Ypulse: Media for the Next Generation:

The challenge for teachers is to find ways of adopting and integrating technology students are fluent with outside of class inside the class room in ways that are educational and help them accomplish their core teaching objectives (vs. just make class less boring). All of this got me thinking again about a post I did a long time ago where I suggested that the big tech companies join together and create “bootcamps” for every public school teacher in this country. Instead of just giving them more free versions of Power Point, immerse teachers in the technology their students are fluent with and explain how young people use it and why they love it. Here’s a sample “teacher bootcamp” schedule:

Let’s get social. Teachers learn how social networking got its start, tour the most popular sites with teens and create profiles on MySpace and Facebook. Teachers or librarians who have used social networking successfully in an educational capacity come in and present case studies.

Teens & their iPods, a love story. Every teacher gets an iPod. They tour the sites where teens download music for free and then go to iTunes and get to create their own playlist. Teachers who have integrated iPods into the classroom successfully present case studies.

Blog it! Teachers are given a virtual tour of the most popular blogging sites/software with teens. Every teacher sets up a blog, learns how to link and upload photos, comments on each other’s blogs. Teachers who have used blogs successfully in class present case studies.

Game on. Teachers are given a virtual tour of the most popular video games and online games with teens – including virtual worlds. Case studies then given on how educational games or educational activities in some virtual worlds are helping teens.

You get the drift. The idea would be immerse teachers, let them play with the technology in the same way kids do, then have the trailblazing teachers show them how these technologies can be used in ways that are educational. I think every teacher at bootcamp should also have a teen partner who does all of this stuff with them — and ideally who can be a TA (and help with tech support) when teachers go back to the class room, hopefully armed with more than just free software.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Sphere: Related Content

10 myths about school shootings

As the horrible tragedy in Virginia unfolds, we as media watchers must immediately guard against the tendency of the pundocracy to use this as anecdotal evidence for their various causes, especially those who demonize youth. has a really good article on the ten myths about school shootings. Please read it via the link below. I highlighted the last point, because despite the sensationalism of the event, this kind of violence is extremely rare. Meanwhile, our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims and the community at large.

10 myths about school shootings – Crime & Punishment –

Myth No. 10. “School violence is rampant.”

It may seem so, with media attention focused on a spate of school shootings. In fact, school shootings are extremely rare. Even including the more common violence that is gang-related or dispute-related, only 12 to 20 homicides a year occur in the 100,000 schools in the U.S. In general, school assaults and other violence have dropped by nearly half in the past decade.

Technorati Tags:

Sphere: Related Content

Kidzania: branded career paths for the young

I hope this is one Japanese trend that doesn’t catch on.

Advertising Age – Martin Lindstrom Video Reports:

TOKYO (BRANDFlash) — Kidzania, a theme park offering intense brand engagement with young children, is a new twist on branded entertainment. It charges a $30 admission fee to allow children to “work” in one of 70 different kinds of jobs for a day. Young customers are outfitted in uniforms, hats or helmets as they take up their places in child-sized brand venues ranging from a Coca-Cola bottling plant and a Mo’s Gourmet Hamburgers restaurant to a Johnson & Johnson hospital ward and a Mitsubishi auto world. Admission is now sold out months in advance and marketers are fighting to become part of this branding bonanza.

Technorati Tags:

Sphere: Related Content

The age of compression


USA writes about an interesting new youth media phenomenon: age compression. The article states:

Jill Brown almost cried the day her 9-year-old daughter sold several American Girl dolls at a yard sale so she could buy a Juicy Couture sweat suit.

It was a painful reminder that the emotional and psychological distance between childhood and the teen years is far shorter than ever.

“It was such an indication of her moving to a different place,” says Brown, a marketing consultant in Northbrook, Ill. “It was also a little bit of an indication that she was starting to solve things for herself.”

Chalk it up to “age compression,” which many marketers call “kids getting older younger” or KGOY. Retail consultant Ken Nisch says it shouldn’t be a surprise or an outrage that kids are tired of toys and kid clothes by 8, considering that they are exposed to outside influences so much earlier. They are in preschool at 3 and on computers at 6.

One of the sad by-products of this trend has been the increasing sexualization of younger and younger kids, as evidenced by the controversy around Bratz dolls. There has also been much written about the “disappearance of childhood.” For me the jury is out. I think often times it’s the parents who act more like kids, and the problem is not that childhood is disappearing, it is that responsible adulthood no longer exists.

You can read more here:
As kids get savvy, marketers move down the age scale –

Generation Y, those between about 8 and 26, are considered the most important generation for retailers and marketers because of their spending power and the influence they have over what their parents buy. But just as the 8- to 12-year-old “tweens” are pitched with a dizzying array of music, movie and cellphone choices, the nearly 10 million tween girls also are getting more attention from fashion, skin care and makeup businesses. Last year, NPD Group says 7- to 14-year-old girls spent $11.5 billion on apparel, up from $10.5 billion in 2004.

With their keen but shifting senses of style, tween girls present some of the biggest rewards and challenges for retailers and brands. What’s called for: a delicate marketing dance that tunes in tween girls without turning off their parents, who control both the purse strings and the car. Retailers to tween girls also must stay in close touch with the fashion pulse, because being “out” is even more painful for girls who haven’t hit the teen years, say retailers and their consultants. They’ll drop a brand faster than you can say Hannah Montana if the clothes become anything close to dorky.

Sphere: Related Content

The authenticity paradox


Ciao! I though I’d alert all the readers out there that I have a new article posted on Understanding Media about the issue of “authenticity” and youth marketing. The site also has a short interview that explains a little bit about where my perspective comes from. Here’s a snip:

Understand Media -> Articles -> The Authenticity Paradox and the Perils of Youth Marketing by Antonio Lopez:

The Authenticity Paradox and the Perils of Youth Marketing

As a veteran of youth counterculture, I’m watching with curiosity the growing importance of youth voices as a gauge for the so-called “real,” not in the philosophical sense, but in the “keeping it real” sense. Marketers are not concerned whether or not adults think what they see is “real”: it’s the skeptical teen audience that is more challenging.

Technorati Tags:

Sphere: Related Content

Food Is the top product seen advertised by children

It’s no wonder that obesity and diabetes are growing so fast in the US:

* 34% of All Food Ads Targeting Children or Teens Are for Candy and Snacks

* Half of All Ads Shown During Children’s Shows Are for Food

New Study Finds That Food Is the Top Product Seen Advertised by Children – Kaiser Family Foundation:

New Study Finds That Food Is the Top Product Seen Advertised by Children

As the fight against childhood obesity escalates, the issue of food advertising to children has come under increasing scrutiny. Policymakers in Congress, the Federal Trade Commission and agencies such as the Institute of Medicine have called for changes in the advertising landscape, and U.S. food and media industries are developing their own voluntary initiatives related to advertising food to children. To help inform this debate, the Kaiser Family Foundation released the largest study ever conducted of TV food advertising to children.

The study, Food for Thought: Television Food Advertising to Children in the United States, combines content analysis of TV ads with detailed data about children’s viewing habits to provide an estimate of the number and type of TV ads seen by children of various ages.

Sphere: Related Content

Digital ethnorati


Using the term digital ethnorati, Steve Wilmarth from The Center for 21st Century Skills presented at South By Southwest (SXSW) Festival in Austin. Here is a Flickr slide link to his interesting Digital Ethnorati panel presentation.

Also, check out AfroGeeks.

Technorati Tags:

Sphere: Related Content



Sometimes you can feel an idea in the air and grab it. Before Wired came out with it’s Media Snack Attack, one visionary educator in the UK had already thought of the concept. He observed that youth were like media snackers and went on to create an innovative training around this idea. The website is a great resource for podcasts and useful info. I think the intro video above explains it all beautifully.

Technorati Tags: ,

Sphere: Related Content

Kids Only: Nickelodeon, Youth and Citizenship


For those of you interested in the media impact on kids, you can check out this streaming video talk by Sarah Banet-Weiser, ‘Kids Only: Nickelodeon, Youth & Citizenship.’ You may want to check out her up-coming edited volume, “Cable Visions: Television Beyond Broadcasting” (New York University Press).

UWTV Program: Kids Only: Nickelodeon, Youth and Citizenship:

USC Annenberg presents a discussion featuring Communication Professor Sarah Banet-Weiser entitled ‘Kids Only: Nickelodeon, Youth & Citizenship’. Her research looks specifically at the stated mission of the children’s cable channel Nickelodeon to be inclusive of all children, and analyzes the politics of race and gender representation on the network. Ms. Banet-Weiser is also the author of ‘The Most Beautiful Girl in the World: Beauty Pageants and National Identity’ (1999), which explores the interconnections of gender, race and national identity within the Miss America pageant.

Sphere: Related Content

Greatest generation gap since rock and roll?


Yet again the new cultural practices of kids are getting demonized by left and right. Geeze, adults can be so lame sometimes. One article in particularly really got under my skin, “Mirror, Mirror on the Web” by Lakshmi Chaudhry. She thinks kids are too narcissistic. This is how I responded in my letter to The Nation:

While it’s easy to appreciate the sentiment of Lakshmi Chaudhry’s article, “Mirror, Mirror on the Web”– that the tendencies of our young narcissists are exacerbated by new media– I wonder if this article really serves any purpose other than to gratify a sense of superiority over pop culture that is so common in the Left. No doubt the human tendency to show off is enhanced by the number of outlets available to create opportunities for bloated egos to wend their way to audiences though the Web 2.0, but to paint such a picture only tells one part of the story and unfortunately promotes a subtext that is shocking to see in The Nation: the demonic matrix of youth and media strike once again! These are the same tropes you’ll see cycled repeatedly through the conservative press, and it is one of the many curious commonalities that Left and Right share these days.

As a youth media educator who has worked with thousands of kids across the United States, I have found maybe 5% fitting the description of the raving narcissists described in the story. I found it particularly troubling this notion that feel-good messages from the ’70s are the culprit. Many kids of color I work come from broken homes and could use TLC to build self-esteem. The anger towards this parenting approach is unfathomable to me.

The underlying motive of all children (adults too!) is to connect with others and to be loved. Media education programs help build esteem because they enable kids who normally have few venues for expression to have a voice and learn the tools of a system that is so regularly derided on these pages. This has great benefit to the society. Sure some kids want be famous. Don’t we all? This is America, darn it! (After all why do we write and produce media anyway?)

And I thought their war mongering parents were bad! Anyhow, there is actually a more balanced view over at New York Magazine, a choice observation (below) comes from video game theorist, Clay Shirky:

Kids, the Internet, and the End of Privacy: The Greatest Generation Gap Since Rock and Roll — New York Magazine:

Shirky describes this generational shift in terms of pidgin versus Creole. “Do you know that distinction? Pidgin is what gets spoken when people patch things together from different languages, so it serves well enough to communicate. But Creole is what the children speak, the children of pidgin speakers. They impose rules and structure, which makes the Creole language completely coherent and expressive, on par with any language. What we are witnessing is the Creolization of media.”

That’s a cool metaphor, I respond. “I actually don’t think it’s a metaphor,” he says. “I think there may actually be real neurological changes involved.”

Technorati Tags: ,

Sphere: Related Content

The Ultimate Bookshelf for a Youth Media Educator

For all you youth media educators, I wanted to give you a heads-up on this terrific article that reviews many really good resources ranging from theory to practice. This is a primer that we’ll be referencing quite often (click the link for the full article).

Youth Media Reporter: The Ultimate Bookshelf for a Youth Media Educator:

Over the past two years educators and administrators working in all mediums of youth media have shared with YMR the books, videos, and reports that have most informed and deepened their work. The following list is a compilation of these recommendations placed into six categories: media reform, youth work, understanding youth media in its academic and socio-political context, media education curricula, media organization, and marketing youth media. Included are links to relevant articles that have appeared on YMR. These recommended resources provide a comprehensive look at youth media, highlights of YMR, and key discussions in the field.

Sphere: Related Content

Media masks

Stevie | His sister in danger, 4-year-old plays hero.

A few weeks ago this story caught my attention. It’s about a four-year-old boy named Stevie Long who foiled a robbery by dressing as a Power Ranger and scarring of the attackers in his home with a plastic sword. It got me thinking about some of the criticisms people have made about media. Jerry Mander, for one, who authored the Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, had his anti-TV epiphany when he saw his children during a family outing in the woods role-playing characters from Star Trek. I did a lot of that too (I was Spock, of course). And so have humans for thousands of years. They may not have dressed up to pretend they were in the band Kiss or play Vulcans in an imaginary spaceship, but they wore masks, dressed as animals and performed rituals from the stories of their cultures and ancestors.

Now, I still think it is unwise to challenge people with guns, but there is nothing inherently bad about taking on a power animal or superhero for inspiration. These days a lot of kids (and adults too!) are creating avatars to live extended lives that match a more fantastic vision of who they are and could be. Are they playing virtual characters? Absolutely not! There is nothing unreal about playing out a fantasy in cyberspace. It’s just a different location; netspace is not a false reality, it’s a very real place. People who claim that role-playing is inauthentic should question when they are truly authentic in their own lives. We are always playing roles and performing. Don’t believe me? Check in with yourself the next time you have a meeting with a banker, professor, potential employer, a new landlord or your parents. Who are you playing then?

Technorati Tags: ,

Sphere: Related Content

Media-savvy teens less likely to smoke

United Press International – Consumer Health – Media-savvy teens less likely to smoke:

PITTSBURGH, Oct. 9 (UPI) — Teens who are savvier about the motives and methods of advertisers may be less inclined to smoke cigarettes, finds a U.S. study.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine say thousands of adolescents each day are lured to smoking cigarettes by advertisements and movies that feature sophisticated models and actors, suggesting that smoking is a glamorous, grown-up activity.

Sphere: Related Content

Brain hemispheres united, will never be defeated

brainwashAs a mentor (no, not a member of that gawd-awful trash metal band of the ’80s who wore executioner hoods when performing live), I work with youth to guide and support their media activism. (You can read about it in the article I wrote in Clamor Magazine called, “School of (Punk) Rock.”) I hear many reports from younger people about feeling stifled by the corporate regurgitation of youth culture, and also the stagnant atmosphere engulfing post-9/11 activism. I feel their pain. Still, I was very impressed by the young activists I encountered at Bonnaroo (such as Clean Vibes) and have noticed a high level of media savvy among college activists these days.

Compared to my university days when all we had were those horrible inky blue mimeograph machines, activists now have blogs, downloadable PDFs, news conferences, Web sites, viral media and so on. They are plugged into an unparalleled vast, global network, something Paul Hawken lovingly calls, “The Other Super Power” (I highly recommend this podcast of Hawken and the Dalai Lama, and this article by Bioneers co-founder Kenny Ausubel, “Heeding the Law of the Land“). When 10 million anti-war/pro-peace marchers gathered and protested on the same day months before the US invaded Iraq, it was an unprecedented planetary event. I get shivers thinking about it.

Thankfully The Nation (a magazine I still read and respect) sponsored a contest for young activists to write about the issues that concern them. The five winners can be read here. “Project Corpus Callosum” by Sarah Stillman of Yale University was the top prizewinner. It’s beautifully written and is worth a gander. As she states, it’s all about networking our brain hemispheres:

“We must begin rebuilding the intricate connections between our collective left brain (where we house our analytical critique of twenty-first-century woes) and our collective right brain (where we harbor our dreams that another world is possible). Already, young people are building this cross-hemisphere bridge–performing guerrilla theater, conducting counter-recruiting workshops, creating community-policing initiatives, writing feminist blogs and building transnational ties with youth activists around the world. Before long, we will hit our stride with Project Corpus Callosum: a much-needed mission to restore the space within our collective conscience where our radical imaginations meet our commitment to everyday action.”

Sphere: Related Content

Block Party!

Mark your calendars. It’s also on my 40th B-day!

Block Party