The influence social media has on adolescents has become a prominent subject over the years. Not only because this group of adolescents is developmentally vulnerable but because today’s youth is the largest user base on social networking sites. According to a report by Common Sense Media, 75 percent of teenagers in America currently have profiles on social networks. 68 percent use Facebook as their main social networking tool.
Joy Scott, a 4-H youth development, citizenship and leadership specialist, knows that social media usually gets a bad rap when it involves today’s youth, but she believes it actually makes a positive impact.
I asked Scott if there is a noticeable difference in behavior from children who have grown up with social media verses adults who have only used social media later in life. Scott said, “Today’s youth is not afraid of it. They use it as a safe haven.”
Scott works with young people in the 4-H program. She views social media as a way for them to learn from one another. For example, Scott explained the 4-H state ambassadors who respect the youth in Alabama 4-H are spotlighted each month. These ambassadors are spotlighted on the 4-H Facebook page with their picture and a quote.
“These spotlight posts give younger kids in the program the motivation to be a future 4-H ambassador,” Scott explained.
Alabama 4-H is the largest youth development organization in Alabama, with more than 60,000 members ages 9 through 18. There are more than 3,000 screened and trained volunteer leaders. These volunteer leaders work with 4-H Foundation Regional Extension Agents regional agents in the Alabama Cooperative Extension System to deliver these educational programs.
4-H focuses on belonging, independence, generosity and mastery in many different educational programs. A few examples are photography, healthy lifestyles and technology. The 4 H’s stand for: Head, Heart, Hands, and Health. They are the four values members work on through fun and engaging programs.
The 4-H program Facebook page shares, “The mission of 4-H is to serve all youth. Alabama 4-H is an innovative, responsive leader in developing our states young people to become productive citizens.”
Scott shared that younger people in the program can get information about upcoming 4-H events and news, on the 4-H Facebook page. They can also get information on other Alabama Cooperative Extension events and programs.
In addition, Scott tells kids in the program that what they post on their own social media accounts will reflect the 4-H program. “I always tell the kids to be careful what they put on social media because it can affect their future.”
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer leader or for more information on the Alabama 4-H program, go online to www.Alabama4H.com and search for 4-H in your county.