Academic journal article Communication Research Trends

Youth Media around the World: Implications for Communication and Media Studies

Academic journal article Communication Research Trends

Youth Media around the World: Implications for Communication and Media Studies

Article excerpt

A. Introduction

Whether in academia or more mainstream circles, it is a cliche to talk about how children and adolescents (and all of us) today are surrounded by an array of media and communication technologies that are part and parcel of everyday life. And while not all young people have direct access to all media on a daily basis--especially several newer media--many young people encounter television, movies, music, computer/video games, magazines, billboards, posters, comics, advertisements, e-mail, websites, and instant and text-messaging as users and/or consumers in a variety of contexts. All of these media are made available through various software and hardware that quite often blur the boundaries of these media as distinct forms, as well as challenge traditions of literacy, aesthetics, identity, culture, and all of their interrelationships.

Given the ubiquity, power, and appeal of these media, and the roles they play in contemporary economies, politics, and cultures, a variety of youth media production and education projects and programs have been established. Educators, researchers, policy analysts, advocates, activists, artists, and young people are working within different youth media production and education contexts around the world. This article aims to provide an overview of the tremendous diversity of perspectives, principles, practices, and outcomes of youth media, and to explain, generally, how the particularities of regional, social, economic, and political situations and circumstances inform and shape youth media. In addition, I will suggest how media and communication researchers can contribute to this emergent field.

B. Defining Youth Media

Broadly speaking, youth media involve projects and programs that engage young people as creators of media products, often within non-profit contexts such as schools or community-based organizations. These projects and programs provide young people with the intellectual, aesthetic, social, and technical knowledge and skills they need to use, comprehend, and evaluate media, but especially, to create and circulate media in a critical, appreciative, and pro-active manner. Given how many young people around the world do not have or have not had access to the means of media production and distribution, youth media programs provide media-disadvantaged youth with the means to produce media, and to distribute their creations via various venues. The kinds of media that youth might create within such non-profit contexts can vary considerably, depending on the resources available to the project/program, and the needs and interests of the stakeholders. The resources available, and the particular needs and interests of people located in specific places and times, are rooted in the history, economies, politics, and culture of that location.

Several publications provide some background and overviews of youth media as a field worthy of study. On the worldwide front, Children and Media: Image, Education, Participation (von Feilitzen & Carlsson, 1999) was produced to respond to concerns about rapid changes in the world and within/across media, in particular, the processes of globalization that have deregulated, privatized, and consolidated many media across borders of all kinds. Globalization via media has long been and still is considered a threat to many local traditions and sensibilities, spurring public and private debates about the consequences of globalization in specific communities and regions, which sometimes result in various localities enacting policies and practices to regulate global flows. A subset of issues concerning the global circulation of violence via media, and the experiences of violence in people's real lives, has led to studies and programs focused on the violence that is represented in media that circulate worldwide, and violence that children and adolescents can actually experience in their everyday lives. …

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