[RESEARCH REPORT] Connected Kids by @Childwise

9555463I used some the Childwise data quite extensively in my research for Raising Children in a Digital Age, so keen to read this report once I get a chance:

Our latest Special Report – Connected Kids, highlights the progressions of the last 20 years, using past data to make predictions of how children will interact with technology in the future.

See this news story from March when it was first released, which includes:

…. the report found that traditional social networks like Facebook will continue to decline in popularity, while photo and video-sharing sites like YouTube, Instagram and SnapChat gain traction with young people.

Other findings include that

  • Traditional TV watching has been exchanged for on-demand online watching.
  • The increasing growth of portable devices, and that they are becoming ‘hubs’ for interacting with all other devices.
  • A sense that the ‘internet of things‘ is upon us!

Thanks again Mary Hawes!

[Comment Piece] Youth, Social Media and the Election #GE2015

Russell Brand’s trailer for an interview with Ed Milliband on The Trews is nearing 250,000 views, and a large number of commenters on his site are applauding Milliband for being prepared to engage with the tough questions – and the disillusioned voters. Russell Brand, famously, has never voted, and urges his followers not to bother on Election Day, as he doesn’t believe that voting makes a difference. Statistics show that 18-24 year olds do have some of the lowest turnouts at elections, and that a large number of those believe that they do not have a real say, as politicians break promises, don’t listen, are inauthentic, and ‘all the same’.

Last month, an Ipsos MORI survey indicated that 34% of 18-24 year olds believe that their sympathies will be influenced by something they’ve encountered on social media, compared to 13% of the general population. The New Statesman indicated that they believed that “the party that can best adapt to this arena could be the one that tips the balance in a tight election.” So far, however, the political parties appear largely to be using an old fashioned broadcast style, preaching to the converted, and not really using the opportunities to listen, or engage in conversation with disillusioned or floating voters. Even the Green Party’s “viral video” Change the Tune largely ‘preached’, rather than encouraged engagement.

Isabel Hardman of The Spectator described this as “broadcast-only pretty-picture-focused strategy”, encouraging politicians to “fake it”, and seeking a level of control that doesn’t sit well within social media:

If a party leader is worried that a chance encounter with a voter reveals what he or she really thinks, then perhaps he or she needs to have a think about what he or she thinks.

Young people are incredibly active on social media, including in relation to politics. Some see social media as making the debate more divisive and superficial than it needs to be, whilst others see it as breaking down the barriers between voters and parties: I received a tweet indicating that one voter “have been tweeting my two fave candidates. It helped me make my decision”. In true pop-worship style, ‘Abby’, a seventeen year old currently revising for AS Levels started the #milifandom campaign, social media has been used to encourage sign up for voting, and Sky hosts a ‘Stand Up Be Counted’ space for 16-25 year olds to debate the issues that matter to them. Knowing that others are voting for minority parties has also encouraged greater engagement, with users using tools such as Vote for Policies, and Vote Swap, sites such as COADEC, which look at manifestos from a particular perspective, whilst apps such as Digital Mysteries seek to get young people interested and engaged in the issues of the election.

As indicated in Raising Children in a Digital Age, although children aren’t ‘digital natives’ who are ‘fundamentally different from us’, they have grown up in a time when the digital is an embedded part of their everyday life. Most politicians are clearly not using social media in an embedded way, but as a digital marketing tool, and this is seen as inauthentic. We need to look at the underlying culture, whether traits such as collaboration, innovation, transparency, and openness belong solely to the younger generation, and reports such as the Ipsos MORI Who is Generation Next? which indicate what the concerns of the younger generation are, and what they might expect from their politicians. Young people want to know that they are being listened to, that their voices count, and that they are not being patronised.

We are not necessarily hearing from politicians in bitesize chunks, Ed Miliband’s recent encounter excepted, they are not really engaging in difficult conversations outside of television interviews. Digital users want solid content that they can get behind and share, and want opportunities to feed into policies, with real-time modification of responses. The Greens as a fringe party, are only 70,000 likes behind the Labour Party on Facebook, and only 20,000 followers behind the Conservatives on Twitter. Young people, however, are typically more likely to be found on peer-to-peer networks, and visual spaces such as Instagram and Pinterest, where there is even less political engagement. It’s also worth considering whether the whole ballot-box system is anachronistic – I won’t be the only one who voted via post a week ago, so for me the election is over.

Dr Bex Lewis is Research Fellow in Social Media and Online Learning for CODEC, Durham University, Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age (2014). 

Note: Durham University media team asked me to write this. Think others beat me to it with similar material, so have posted as if it was the time I wrote it! 

[RESEARCH] Who is Generation Next?

who-is-generation-nextThe National Children’s Bureau has just published the following report: Who is Generation Next? An excerpt from the Foreword:

These 11 to 16 year-olds, growing up in the context of significant economic challenges and with the proliferation of new technology, share some of the concerns of their parents’ generation. Across the generations, crime, activities for young people and street cleanliness are identified as local priorities. However, they have their own challenges too. They are anxious about getting good grades and a job when they leave school, about their appearance and about their parents working too hard. Many believe it will be harder for them to buy a house or get a job than it was for their parents. In fact, only a minority of Generation Next think life will be better for them than it was for their parents.

At the same time we see real hope for a future society led by these children. The majority believe that gender and ethnicity does not pose a barrier to getting a good job, and hopefully they will hold to that belief as future employers and employees. Nevertheless, many still think getting a well-paid job will be easier for those with a rich family or who went to private school.

Many children and young people believe 16 and 17 year-olds should have the opportunity to vote. However, the research shows that the majority are undecided about their political allegiances. It may be that we are moving away from a political culture dominated by party loyalty and identity politics, and towards a more independent culture in which individual issues matter more than party allegiance. These children and young people have much to tell those who lead this country. Like adults, they want to see health services and education at the top of the national agenda.


Thanks to Rev Mary Hawes for spotting this one.

[Publication] Collaborative Learning in Media Education

I have a chapter published in this book – just out:


Marcus Leaning (eds), 2015. Collaborative Learning in Media Education. Santa Rosa: Informing Science Press. ISBN: 9781932886931

Collaborative learning is a key pedagogic activity in many media education programmes in schools colleges and universities worldwide.  When well executed, collaborative work enables students to learn much from each other and gain valuable experience of working in concert – a skill central to contemporary work practices in many media industries. Moreover, many media educators argue educational practices and approaches should evolve and shift better to suit the networked nature of contemporary media and collaborative learning activities can be facilitated and enhanced by the use of social media.

This volume brings together chapters from leading researchers and academics in institutions across the UK. Comprising of eight chapters that explore issues such as the theoretical background of collaborative learning, the issues involved in using social media technologies for collaboration, using wiki pages for learning and distributed collaborative learning in rural locations.

Purchase book, or see my chapter here.


Introduction:   Collaborative Learning in Higher Education Media Education Programmes

                        Marcus Leaning

Section 1      Thinking Collaboratively

Chapter 1:        Framing Collaboration in Media Education

Marcus Leaning

Chapter 2:        Programming Collaborative Leaning

Bex Lewis

Chapter 3:        Exploring the Use of Collaborative Learning in an Experientially Designed Student Undergraduate Programme: A Case Study

Melanie Gray

Section 2      Social Media Technologies and Collaboration

Chapter 4:        Empowering the Learner, Liberating the Teacher? Collaborative Lectures Using New Technologies

Dan Jackson and Richard Berger

Chapter 5:        Student Wiki Pages: Online Collaboration in a Networked Learning Environment

Einar Thorsen

Chapter 6:        Structures for Digital Collaboration and Interaction

Lisa Stansbie

Section 3      Collaboration In and Out of the Classroom

Chapter 7:        Stories & Streams: A Problem-Based Design for Student-Led Collaboration and Peer-to-Peer Teaching Across Media Practice Modules
Paul Bradshaw, Jonathan Hickman and Jennifer Jones

Chapter 8:        University of the Village
Jem Mackay and Karl Phillips


                        Author Affiliation


Index              …….