One of my key learning points from the weekend that we have just run is the impact that mobile technology now has on young people and how different this is to my own experience, not only as a young person but also as a youthworker. When I was younger you either arranged to meet up with your mates when you saw them, rang them over the weekend to make arrangements (or to chat) or popped over to theirs if you hadn’t organised anything. If you didn’t do any of these you didn’t see them and had no communication until the Monday back at school, college, uni or whatever. To some extent this gave you an independence from the relationships you formed and meant that you had to just ‘get on with it’. It also meant that you had to forward plan to some extent or live with ‘chance’ and luck more.(Maybe they would be up the park, in the high street etc)
This weekend we were giving young people a taste of what it might be like when they go to India. On the Saturday morning when they arrived (mostly not knowing anyone) they were asked if they would hand over their mobile phones and mp3 players. I was amazed at the furore this caused. They were shocked that they weren’t going to be able to communicate with anyone! (Although there were another 37 young people on the weekend!! :) ) Many of them wanted to keep their phones to keep in touch with parents as well as friends and also found this difficult. However, hand them over they did and they were amazed at the results.
Feedback at the end of the weekend from the young people was how hard (but good) it had been not to have their mobile phone. That they had had to make friends all the more because they couldn’t rely on their usual network of ‘mobile’ friends and the support they got from there, instead they had to rely on the people they were with. They had had to have face to face conversations and depend on the group.
Now, I know I should know and realise, (after all I’ve seen DKs Mediasnackers presentation) but I hadn’t really put together the impact mobile phones have on delivering youth work until this weekend. Given my involvement in Social Media and awareness of tools like Twitter I’m surprised how I hadn’t really thought about its impact. That is the impact on youth workers and how it must affect the delivery on group work sessions, and even how you plan sessions, deliver residentials etc. What you do and how you’re doing can be reported in real time to a much wider audience via the texts etc that young people are sending during your session. This can have its downsides as well as its upsides and I guess that, surprisingly, I hdan’t really thought about it. I had thought about its use in terms of the upsides but not on how it could and probably does impact on youth work colleagues delivering face to face work. I think that I’ll definately be chatting to colleagues during our upcoming conference to find out more about this.
How about you? Are you of the generation who has always known mobile technology and therefore its just a part of life and youth work? Does it affect your delivery? What do you think?