Engaging Youth in Social Media: Is Facebook the New Media Frontier? A NewsCloud – University of Minnesota Research Report Executive Summary Prepared by: Christine Greenhow (firstname.lastname@example.org), University of Minnesota
Counter to the decline in young people’s (print‐based) reading for pleasure and traditional media consumption is a noted increase in out‐of‐school online reading and writing through online fan fiction and social network sites.i ,ii Yet, according to the Pew research institute, over one third of people under 25 get no news on a daily basis.iii However, teens spend many hours a week online (a recent British study said 31), particularly on Facebook ‐‐ the most‐trafficked social media site in the world. Facebook has more than 250 million active members. Can youth be persuaded to critically engage in news and conversation ‐‐ on Facebook? Can they feel a sense of community? Furthermore, can their involvement translate into real‐world actions, or will it consist solely of virtual activism? And, if we understood how young people prefer to manipulate, produce and talk through information online, would that move us closer to understanding how to develop successful media‐rich and educational environments? Answering such questions is critical. If we hope to inform, educate and mobilize an engaged citizenry — as the vision for not only the future of news industries but also for full participationiv in a 21st centuryv democracy says we should — we need to make sharing news and experiences fit easily into teens' lives and be easily tracked and observed to ensure success.
The Social Media Experiment
In 2008, Jeff Reifman, founder of news aggregation company NewsCloud, and University of Minnesota researcher Dr. Christine Greenhow,vi were awarded a generous $249,529 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to study how young people use and share news. To gather study data, two ...