Teens and Social Media Week: Why Should They Care?

This post is the first in a series by SMWNYC media partner, Differences Magazine. Written by Jessica Bender. Learn more about Differences Magazine and see the original post here.

One of the biggest weeks of the year for social media is just around the corner, and thousands across the Big Apple are just anxious in anticipation for the year’s festivities. One major demographic that might not even know what’s going on, though, is the adolescents and teens that use social media about every day of their young lives.

It feels like the only stories that the news covers about teens and social media usually involve being addicted to the Internet or how sites like Facebook and Formspring give youngsters easier ways to cyber bully. Heads up, news conglomerates; the Internet wasn’t made to brainwash teenagers. Just to prove this notion, SMW 2012 is full of teen-friendly panels and events.

With over 80 percent of American teens age 12 to 17 on social networking sites, here are just a few examples as to why SMW is vital for teens to pay attention to (although we don’t recommend skipping classes to attend – stay in school!):

1. Your education depends on social media. With higher amounts of students dropping out and the higher education bubble on the verge of bursting, our education system is in trouble. Universities and colleges across America are already ahead of the game and plotting ways to make high school graduates interested in going back to school. The rise of online courses and high use of social media to transition from high school senior to college freshman have made earning an associate’s or bachelor’s degree look a little cooler, but can methods like this work for the high school spectrum?

a. Panels that might interest youThe Classroom of the Future: How Social Media Can Better Our Education System; Get “Schooled” By the Class of 2015: The New College Orientation – Powered By Students, Enabled By Social

2. Television will become a lot more interactive in the future. Networks have had a hard time scooping up and keeping viewers from watching their programs in real-time, thanks to their mortal enemies DVR and TiVo. Their only hope is to engage their demographics in interactive ways, like using social and mobile media to interact with their audience and keep them watching. The home of Top Chef and The Real Housewives of Every City in America, Bravo, is just one of the few networks that currently do this successfully – can others follow suit?

a. Panels that might interest youThe Mobile-Social Living Room: How Emerging Media is Reviving the Live Television Experience; Social Television: Opportunities for Broadcasters and Advertisers

3. Your video game addiction will actually benefit society at some point. Games can be fun, but can they actually make a difference? New research has suggested that gaming can create real-world change by influencing positive behavior and creating collaborative communities. While green companies are using mobile apps and social media to reward green actions, new games like America2049 are using pop culture and community mobilization to provoke people to take action for human rights and other important causes.

a. Panels that might interest youGreen Gamification: Combining Social Media & Game Mechanics to Promote Sustainability; GAME/WORLD: The New Collaborative Community

4. Social media will make you more socially responsible. If a campaign or organization wants to succeed in changing the world nowadays, they have to engage their followers and partners using social media to persuade them to jump on to their bandwagon. One cause in particular that has been stirring up global interest is girls’ education. Campaigns and non-profits like 10X10 and She’s the First know that girls will run the world one day, and their methods of social engagement have opened the eyes of thousands across the country.

a. Panels that might interest you10×10: Educate Girls, Change the World; The New Face of Social Good: How to Create Your Own Social Media Magic

With over 300 panels and events to choose from, there’s something to suit every teen’s taste. There’s officially no excuse to miss out on the fun. But, should homework and extracurricular activities get in the way, all the SMW excitement will be covered on Facebook and Twitter.