Posts Tagged ‘anatomy of youth’
It’s a testament to the giant influence and command the internet has on our lives that for the ‘Anatomy of Youth’ launch event seven young people have spent the afternoon locked in a basement frantically typing away. For those that haven’t been able to make it, we’re the ones in photographs looking pretty darn tired!
We were all tasked with tackling different sections of the report, and it’s fallen to us to deal with the one that covers ‘Digital Identity’. I guess we were drawn into doing it as we’re both slightly 1337. Ste Prescott, another v20 member will join me on this blog, and for future reference anything in bold can be traced back to his giant mind. Just for reference, here’s a photograph of Ste, in case you want to chase him down a street at some point.
Let’s start with breaking down the title of this section. What is a digital identity? Having read the report, and from our own experiences in the internet world (Ste is a web designer and James is Social Media Consultant) a digital identity covers a whole heap of online information, but it can be broken down into two simple types:
- Online profiles: the ‘Public Image’ we aim to project to the rest of the world
- User generated content; blogs, comments, status updates, reviews
I’m sure everyone that’s dipped their toe into the strange world of Facebook, or indeed adventured into the shameless self promotion of Twitter understands what a profile is. So for the sake of calling everyone who’s reading this a geek we’ll move on and address the concerns that come with ‘living online’ and having ‘digital identity’.
In a passing note, Jon (another v20 member) expressed a very interesting opinion in his blog “Changing Communities – The Disconnect”, he mentioned the sadness he feels that people are more invested in online communities – with individuals the other side of the world – than they are with their own communities. In a strange show of individualism, I’m going to throw out a 45% view. It’s true that we are disconnected to our local communities, but I wouldn’t say that this is a direct result of the development of online societies. Perhaps the breakdown of local communities is a result of the modern transience of families and the increased flexibility of employment. But let’s not get sidetracked!
Ste has dragged out two factoids from the report and expressed his points about them:
42% of 16-24 year olds claim to know someone who has been embarrassed about information that has been uploaded to the internet without their consent. This is pretty normal for most of us that are on Facebook, a lot of times when you sign in you’ll find yourself tagged in a bad photograph.. no one asked for your permission but it’s up there for the world to see.
60% of 14-21 year olds have never considered any potential future effects of posting personal details about themselves online. This seems to draw on the fact that we as ‘youth’ are invested far too much in the here and now, and not the potential ramifications that having this information online could bring.
The most pressing issue for us, is that young people – well in fact most people that are online – don’t realise how much information they’re giving away by being online. Facebook makes you agree to their terms and conditions when you sign up, but how many people actually read it?
The internet is now no longer a purely personal realm. Companies are researching their potential employees before hiring to make sure they fit with their businesses ethos, and a lot of people are falling foul of the internet police. Comments made in jest can lead to the loss of a job, as many political candidates in the 2010 General & Local Elections will testify.
A more worrying element is that our online profile is being monitored by a wide range of companies, some for marketing purposes others with potentially more sinister intentions. We’ll leave you with a worrying thought, the CIA now own part of Visible Technologies – one of the biggest social media monitoring companies in the world – through their investment arm In-Q-Tel…
Beware what you put online… in case it comes back to bite you!
Having written a post on this topic over on the Voicebox site I felt it to comment on this subject here. The ideas of a ‘Lost Generation’ is pivotal to attitudes towards young people presently. As the Anatomy Of Youth’s second chapter indicates, the discourse and far reaching implications of the fabled ‘credit crunch’ upon labour conditions present a massive challenge for young people everywhere. As social theorists have noted, there is a clear correlation between the state of labour conditions – influenced in itself by economic resonances – and social relations and thus the social order. This order, in effect, is skewed and the result? Society is taking it out on young people.
This chapter addresses these discursive issues – the fundamental problems of which, lie in the favouring of older people over younger ones. There is a proven inequality currently in society. The detailing in the report first invites us to ask, then quantatively answers, why it is that young people should be helped.
The answer within this can be located in the future according to the report. As the report elaborates ‘this point in history is not a good moment to be young in the UK’. The far reaching affects of the slump will potentially cause massive cultural issues amongst this demograph in the future and thus is spawned the idea around the ‘Lost Generation’. The nation has been held in a situation where a lack of jobs, the cutting of hours and the arrest in broad hirings have resulted in a surge of university applications. So much so that 130,000 people had to be turned down.
This disbalance of the current social climate lies within the ideology surrounding social mobility as the second chapter of the report concludes. The newly formed roles and professions emerging in the ever changing economy cater to the skills sets of the youth. Young people now have the tools to really influence the societal structure, but it is employers who seem to be lacking the initiative to engage with this demograph. The report attempts to bring light to these issues whilst questioning the role of young people in our societal structure. Can employers cater to this generation? Is Britain prepared for these socially active, hyper connected, web savvy generation of kids? Does it want to?
I should hope so.
Take a peek at the report for a furthered response to the subject – it’s good reading, promise. Nice.
Being a member of v20 and working for the youth empowerment charity Envision I see and meet many young people that are active and effective citizens; young people that are volunteering, campaigning, starting their own projects and making a positive difference to issues they care about.
Chapter 7 of the Anatomy Of Youth report explores young people and the trends and challenges around being an effective citizen. Today there are many more ways to make a difference as a citizen. Young people have many avenues to express their opinions and campaign online, young people are pursuing careers in social and ethical areas and many express their views on things such as fair labour through what they buy. The chapter also highlights the lack of connection that exists between young people and political culture. Young people feel disillusioned with politics and politicians. The report explains that young people’s apathy towards politics is now greater now than at any point in history.
For me the chapter throws up two main concerns. Firstly, whilst some young people are ‘hyper engaged’ as effective citizens there are others that are completely disconnected from both wider arenas of active citizenship and traditional forms of political expression. We need to make sure that efforts are made to engage everyone as effective citizens. Secondly, whilst it’s positive that there are an increasing number of ways to be an effective citizen, these need to be accompanied by traditional political citizenship. As Stuart White points out democracy provides us with the opportunity to change our society – if the next generation becomes disengaged from it there is a risk that it will only represent a narrow section of society. We need to recognise the power of government, use our votes and hold politicians to account.
To enable young people to be the most effective citizens they can we need to be inclusive in our efforts to continue to encourage and expand the many ways that people can be active citizens. This needs to be accompanied by traditional political citizenship. I think we need better citizenship education in schools and, as the report highlights, there needs to be a transfer of political capital to young people so they can become more involved with and excited about politics.
“The two qualities needed to tackle climate change will be ‘imagination and optimism”
Boris Johnson, quoted in Anatomy of Youth
“I want to do something about climate change but I don’t know how” – sound familiar? You are not alone, this is the response three-quarters of young people aged 16-24 gave in some recent research.
Anatomy of Youth is generally quite positive but it is said that since we don’t know what we can do we are “a generation deeply ambivalent about making personal sacrifices”. Do you agree with that? I definitely do not. For a group of people described as being “the first generation to know what it means to live without carbon,” I feel greatly uneducated. Researching for background to this chapter, I was shocked that there was so many projects for young people or by young people around the theme of tackling climate change. I like to think of myself as an amateur eco warrior – choosing a vegan diet as it is better for the planet, generally hating plastic and upset when proper recycling facilities do not exist – but I had not heard of one of these projects. Maybe the problem is publicity?
Another key problem is that we are children of luxuries; flying causes a major carbon footprint yet only 10% of people surveyed agree with making flying (and driving) more expensive to try to decrease the impact.
Now is the time to make a difference and and tell your politicans what you think. The new government will be working hard to battle climate change and will want to hear from you. Be the change!
Further reading and projects to get involved in:
www.cdproject.net – Carbon Disclosure Project
www.juliesbicycle.com – Julie’s Bicycle
http://landshare.channel4.com – Landshare
www.foodworksuk.org – FoodCycle
http://otesha.org.uk – The Otesha Project
www.planestupid.com – Plane Stupid
The Anatomy of Youth report left me feeling pretty overwhelemed, which is quite appropriate, because that seems to be one of the key findings from the report! Young people, aged 16-25, have as many issues facing them as any other generation, probably more, and don’t always have the opportunity or resources to tackle these issues. We are stymied by our age, our education, our money, and by the fact that we’re young, we don’t always want to tackle these issues. If we can’t have fun now, when can we?
Theres an old phrase – societies benefit most when a man plants a tree that he’ll never sit under. How true. The most teeling phrase I found in the introduction was a phrase from the Labour Party’s statement, The Younger Generation (1959) which stated that its not young people who are the authors of their own future, but the current generation. They are the ones writing the story, that we are going to have to live. If we fail to tackle climate change today, for example, its us who are going to have to find the substitute for oil – not an easy task. So if the education system fails us, you’ve beaten us twice. The lack of longterm thinking, for the short term profit and benefit, is having the most effect on us. To steal a quote from the Simpsons, “Won’t somebody please think of the children?!” Why should it be our job to sort out your mess?
In the chapter on belonging to changing communites (chapter 6), research demonstrates that young people feel most disconnected from their local neighbourhoods and communities, less so than their online communities. I feel this is indicative of the selfish culture that was alloed to develop in the 1980s and has been advanced ever since. The interenet is a great tool, allowing its users (mostly young people) to flourish, but largely as individuals, or in a connected but deeply impersonal way. One example of this would be introducing yourself to people. Online, everyone has a list of likes and dislikes, their hobbies, and the events that they’ll be attending in the next month, that you can peruse before striking up a conversation. As Zygmunt Bauman points out, young people are losing the ability to ‘critically analyse’ others in social settings because people already have their souls laid out in front of them. I believe this is making young people less personal, and less willing or able to interact in social situations.
Our disconnect from each other is a huge threat to young people. What’s the point, emotionally, of being able to talk to five people in China, if you don’t know the names of the people next door? Page 112 of the report shows very clearly that if we don’t tackle our community disconnect, participation, volunteering, apathy, and involvement will be in decline.
Ironically, Bauman says that blogs are the embodiement of our competitive, desperate for attention, celebrity obsessed, living the private in public culture. Blogs exist to get noticed, and get attention, he says. Therefore, I’ll keep the rest of my thoughts to myself.
Unless you ask me.
Last week we launched of our new research report, An Anatomy of Youth, in partnership with Demos. Over the past year Demos have analysed the attitudes of 16 – 25 year olds and some of the key trends they are living through. The research brings together original data from v’s Voicebox survey, expert essays, and portraits of young people to reveal a generation that is creating social change rather than simply experiencing it.
The report identifies the failure of the current political debate to adequately discuss long term problems like economic recovery, climate change, the care gap and communities under strain, this is turning youngsters away from politics altogether, despite evidence that many are passionate about politics and social issues. The Times ran a pre-election feature on the Anatomy of Youth, and describe young people’s political engagement as; ‘Young, cool, indifferent: digital generation finds it hard to connect‘.
The report shows young people across Britain are keen to contribute to society, but see little evidence that mainstream politics tries to include young people in decisions outside of ‘youth issues’. At v, we’re committed to understanding more about young people through our research programme.
Terry Ryall, Chief Executive of v, said: “The report helps us understand the big challenges young people are facing, now and in the future, so that we can effectively strengthen their role in society. The findings identify the gap between those young people who are hyper-engaged and those who are disengaged with society. At v, we’re committed to supporting every young person to take action on the issues they care about”.
The research sets out five major challenges young people will inherit, and the extent of the sacrifices they will be forced to make in future:
Citizenship – Young people have lost sight of why traditional politics matters. Only 36% voted at the last election. Politicians must engage young people’s passions, or they will go to express their politics elsewhere – as consumers, donors to charity and in grass roots movements.
Climate Change – Young people know that climate change will affect them, but are unsure how government intervention to de-carbonize the economy will affect their personal freedoms. Governments need to be honest with young people.
Care and families – Young people surveyed placed family at the top of their priorities, but over the decades ahead families will face acute pressures to provide more care, and support with fewer resources. Their families will struggle to cope with an ageing population without big changes in flexible working and state support.
Digital identity – The first generation to be called ‘digital natives’ face unprecedented challenges online between balancing internet freedom and privacy and control their personal information. Governments need to consider how they protect this generation’s digital rights.
Community – Young people are inheriting local communities under strain and low on trust and they feel lower levels of belonging to their local area than other age groups. Local and central governments will need to invest in spaces that can foster inter-cultural and inter-generational exchange between people.
The report includes a foreword from David Willets MP and new essays from Zygmunt Bauman, dana boyd , Katherine Rake , Peter Madden, Stuart White; and Rachel, Sabiha, Kit, Kelvin and Rui provide examples of how they as young people are already taking action.
The report concludes by posing six questions, which are examples of the type that should be asked of all political representatives on behalf of the next generation of voters, whether at a local, central, or international level. The responses to these questions will help us to describe a political future for the next generation and establish a different contract with citizens, which are both essential in creating a healthier political alignment for youth in the decades ahead.
An Anatomy of Youth has started a debate on how we can work together to bridge the gap between politics and young people. The event last week brought together key thinkers, politicians and young people to further explore the research findings and possible solutions. Our v20 advisory board reviewed the report and provided their responses via our blog on digital identity, effective citizens, new families, changing communities, and climate change.
The event was very well attended, indeed at one point we had to operate a one-in-one-out policy! The conversations around the room echoed the same sentiment – we urgently need to consider how we can best support young people transitions through to adulthood in view of the new challenges posed in the next decade. The new coalition government will be tasked with addressing these challenges and we must support young people to become part of the solution.