Youth Participation in Civic Engagement Through Social Media: a case study

Lynnette G. Leonard

Abstract


A decline in civic engagement of American youth is well documented in the research. Social media can facilitate the process and disseminate the results of civic engagement. However, participants must have the skills to work in the medium. Incorporating media literacy into civic engagement projects that involve social media ensures that participants understand how to produce good content and empowers participants with the skills to continue participating well beyond the initial project. The North Omaha Media Alliance (NOMA) project grounds civic engagement activities with education in media literacy for college students at the University of Nebraska Omaha and high schools students in North Omaha, a community in desperate need of increased civic engagement. NOMA utilizes innovative social media to engage youth from disadvantaged circumstances in civic engagement service-learning assignments. To fulfill the fulfill the educational goals of the service-learning assignments, NOMA leverages the social networking site Ning.com to coordinate activities and link to social media outlets (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo and YouTube) to promote the project and display student work. These sites allow NOMA youth to present their perspectives of current national and community issues and become producers of internet content. A description of The North Omaha Media Alliance (NOMA) project along with an analysis of project outcomes will address the question how can social media encourage youth from disadvantaged circumstances to participate in civic engagement? Overall, this paper helps scholars and community members understand the opportunities and limitations of social media for civic engagement, recognize diverse perspectives on the use of social media in service-learning from the perspectives of student participants and community partners, gain insight into the successful integration of social media into service-learning projects, and learn about best practices for using social media to coordinate and promote civic engagement focused service-learning activities.

Keywords


Social Media; Civic Engagement; Service-Learning;

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