Young People and Media Use Symposium Follow-Up: Part Two

8 Feb

You can read Part One of the Young People and Media Use Symposium summary by clicking here.

Matthew Applegate, the first speaker of the afternoon, gave an excellent example of using unconventional methods to encourage creativity. In Applegate’s presentation, titled “Cultural perceptions, ownership and interaction with re-purposed musical instruments,” he described working with young people ages 8-12 in order to make music on converted Nintendo DS systems converted to function as basic instruments. The Nintendo DS did not intimidate young people in the same way a traditional instrument might, due to its familiar (and for some, beloved) form. Instead of inventing songs or learning to play notes, the interface was based on Guitar Hero. You couldn’t play a wrong note, you couldn’t only play a note at the wrong time. The music was also played in groups, which masked individual mistakes.

Although it might be a bit of a leap (and is something of a digression from my summary of the symposium), this made me think about the way that Role-Playing Games (RPGs) are a sneaky way of encouraging creativity. Characters are “guided” through the game (by the Game Master, who helps them navigate the world), but make their own individual decisions, or choose to explore unexpected aspects of the world (or take unexpected actions). Thus, gaming is both like having a story read out to and a group exercise in storytelling and invention. Just as using the Nintendo DS in a somewhat predictive format made young people feel that playing music could be “safe,” so gaming can encourage teens (and children and adults as well) to explore creativity in a format that’s comfortable.

It should be noted that Matthew Applegate was provided free Nintendo DS systems after sending some of his research on using them as music instruments to Nintendo.

The next presentation dealt with a different age group–university undergraduate and graduate students–and addressed their need for increased connectivity. Jo Morrison (a former member of Future Lab gave a presentation on the way that Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design used Ning to provide their students with additional resources and support. The frequent communication provided opportunities for busy students to communicate with practitioners in other areas (for example, fashion students and design students sharing different perspectives). While the sheer amount of work was too overwhelming for many undergraduates, the graduate students flourished. Perhaps a less intensive version of this could be used in public and secondary school libraries to allow young people to connect and share opinions on library services, reviews of books, and information about upcoming events.

The final presentation, titled “Global, national and local: Participatory culture in young people’s creative media production,” was presented by Reijo Kupianinen. Kupianinen studied media literacy practices in Finnish secondary school students ages 13-16. As in previous studies reported on during the symposium, Kupianinen found that students most frequently used TV, computers (particularly the Internet), and mobile phones. Mobile phone use was especially high, not least because it was used during school lessons.

Kupianinen examined the types of media teenagers publish on the Internet. Of those who publish some sort of content, about 50% upload photos (no surprise given the photo uploading capabilities of social networking sites), 20%* publish blogs or other writing/opinions, 25%* publish images of their artwork (drawings or paintings), 10% publish fanfiction, and somewhere between 15-20%* publish video. Although they did not note how many students took part in this, some also took place in text-based RPGs that they participated in by writing content.

Many students who made videos captured school on their vlogs, blurring the boundary between school (a private realm shared only by the students and staff who set foot on the premises), and the public realm (the Internet). This also suggests that even “public” areas like libraries can become public in ways that we don’t consider, i.e. broadcast to a much larger group than the constituency of the local area.

The day concluded with a rousing discussion. My main questions were on some of the things the studies avoided: what percentage of young people’s downloading or Internet time is devoted to accessing media (e.g. books, Wikipedia, videos)? How much piracy occurs and how that does inform young people’s media intake? What is likely to supplant current (and rather clunky) forms of social networking such as Facebook?

Overall, the symposium contained a great deal of information relevant to both to overall library services and to our understanding of how often, through what means, and with what type of perception young people are accessing media.

*The starred percentages are approximations, as I wasn’t able to transcribe the exact numbers mentioned.

You can read Part One of the Young People and Media Use Symposium summary by clicking here.


One Response to “Young People and Media Use Symposium Follow-Up: Part Two”


  1. Tweets that mention Young People and Media Use Symposium Follow-Up: Part Two « YA Library UK -- - February 8, 2011

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Matthew Imrie, YA Library UK. YA Library UK said: SECOND part of Young People's Media Use symposium and how it informs teen library services! #yalitchat #yalit […]

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