In the last few years, there’s been an explosion in the use of GIFS – those little-looped videos that seem to be everywhere. The GIF is often misunderstood as a component of modern communication.
Gen Z navigates their social media anxieties by relying on visual-centric social media platforms, like GIFs, emoji, and memes, wherein they can both create and share visual content to express their emotions. On social platforms, they embrace memes, visual narratives, GIFs and emoji to create fanart and provide their visual interpretations of shared cultural experiences and project their own emotions into their social media feeds.
This episode of the Australian podcast, Future Tense, host Antony Funnell talks to digital researchers and linguists about the ways that people are using GIFs, emoji, selfies and other visual communication tools as narratives to express their ideas, emotions or as visual expressions and celebrations of shared cultural moments.
VR, especially when combined with storytelling, enable the student to participate in the story, develop empathy to experiences outside their current realm of understanding and fully immersed in their learning.
While there’s much hype around the use of VR in education, how are teachers using this emerging technology in the classroom? What do students think? Those are just some of the questions asked by research conducted by Foundry 10, a Seattle-based non-profit.
Foundry 10: Students & VR Pilot Program
In 2015, 2015, Foundry 10 launched a pilot project to study the impact and student sentiment towards the use of virtual reality in their classroom and curriculum. Foundry 10 reached out to educators who expressed an interest in utilizing VR in their classes and provided them with headsets.
Last summer, millions of kids discovered the power of Augmented Reality (AR) while using apps like PokemonGo, Snapchat and Instagram.
In light of these socio-cultural changes, educators need to “keep abreast of change” and embrace curriculum design which integrates the authentic ways that students use AR in their “out of school” experiences as a tool that connects them with peers and content as a means to achieve, both short and long term, learning goals.
Like other technologies, AR has the potential to be a powerful tool that support the personalized learning goals of students by bringing scannable content to life in an engaging and cost effective manner.
For a generation that’s been raised on interactive technologies, bringing AR into the classroom and curriculum can also help encourage active engagement and contribute to student retention.
Full disclosure: Josh is a friend, so I know he’s too modest to list off his many accomplishments. But that doesn’t mean I can’t brag on him--here we go!
Josh has spoken at universities such as Harvard, Stanford, MIT & UCLA and to over TWO MILLION students around the country. He is a recognized teen expert for media outlets as MTV, CNN, FOX, The New York Times, 20/20, and Good Morning America. And Oprah. (Yes, that Oprah.)
“When it comes to understanding the minds of teens, there is no greater expert than Josh Shipp. I’ve witnessed firsthand the lives he’s transformed.”
// Ellen Rakieten, Emmy Award-Winning Producer of OPRAH
Once an at-risk foster kid, he was facing down a bleak future that was likely to include prison or homelessness—until he met the grown-up who changed his life. Josh was passed around the foster care system, he was the class clown, a trouble maker.
He was written off, kicked out, and labeled every parents worst nightmare. Enter Rodney, the foster parent who refused to quit on Shipp and finally got him to believe in himself. And in doing so, changed the trajectory of his young life.
The Power of One Caring Adult
In March 2015, Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child released a study saying, “Every child who winds up doing well has had at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive adult.”
Maybe this child is 9 and in your Boy Scout Troop. Maybe she’s your 13-year-old step-daughter. Maybe he’s 15 and lives in your neighborhood. Whoever it may be, you have the power to make a positive and significant difference in their lives.
Here's how to be that caring adult for the kid in your life.
Step 1: Find out what they’re into.
Step 2: Spend time doing what matters to them because they matter to you.
Step 3: Your investment of time will lead to influential conversations.
If you’re interested in learning more about mentoring or finding a kid who needs a mentor, Josh has pulled together some resources:
As Josh says, “Do for ONE kid — what you wish you could do for ALL kids.”
Grown-Up's Guide to Teenage Humans
On September 19th Josh's brand new book out for parents (teachers, uncles, aunts, youth leaders), “The Grown-Up’s Guide to Teenage Humans”, a practical guide for understanding teens hits bookshelves around the country.
His goal for this book is to help parents and other caring adults be there for the kids in your life, and let them know that you see under the surface of their troubles. You see what they can be—and what they can be is amazing.
Josh challenges adults to be that one caring adult – that person who changes a kid’s life with a simple, caring act. It starts with you, and it starts now.
Stressing the need for mutual respect, trust, and encouragement, Josh identifies three key mindsets crucial to understanding teens.
He breaks down the distinct phases of teenage life, examining the challenges at each phase, and offers revelatory stories that take us deep inside the teen brain.
"Every kid is ONE caring adult away from being a success story." // Josh Shipp
Josh’s message is simple, clear and a refreshing change from the alarmist advice that is so often the default when it comes to discussing Gen Z teens. You can learn more about “Grown-Up’s Guide” and download a free chapter over on his website or order a copy from Amazon.
My colleague Jarrod Walczer and I have been working on a book chapter for a forthcoming publication about the upstander culture sprouting up around the hit Broadway musical, Dear Evan Hansen and the visual social media artifacts being created by teens.
We've spent the last few months scouring Instagram and Tumblr and reading countless numbers of Dear Evan Hansen posts, visual social media and culled data on thousands of posts.
It's been a pretty amazing, and, to be honest at times, a humbling experience. But mostly, it's heartbreaking to read how disconnected and alone the most connected generation in human history feels from the real world.
Either way, one thing has become very clear: it's hard to be a teen in the social media age. So much harder than most adults can even comprehend.
We've learned a lot, developed a deep respect for the Fansen fandom, the Evan Hansen cast and most especially, Ben Platt. As we delve deep into the culture of Evan Hansen, and read the personal stories of these teens, it's clear that Mr. Platt is holding the hopes and emotional fears of many young fans on his shoulders.
Yet, night after night, he continues to carry the emotional weight of the role, he continues to be gracious with his fans and greets them with a smile on his face at the stage door.
We are putting the final touches on our book chapter and will have more details, soon!
What sets Gen Z apart is an unrelenting relationship with information and technology, and their early independence, born of impatience and the confidence to act. These are the identifying traits of what will be the largest demographic in history.
And yet, their confidence and knowledge often out pace experience...which causes tension between an advanced intellect, and the reality of their actual age and emotional intelligence. At the epicenter of this tension we find tweens—a complex subset of Gen Z. They are caught up in the turbulent transition from simply being a kid, to fending off the intricate pressures of teenage existence. They are the pivotal middle-ground of Gen Z.
Tweens pose an interesting dilemma. Kids (5–8) are still largely influenced by and accessed through their parents.
Teens (14–18) are rapidly forming their own opinions and establishing independence from parents, and there are direct channels to reach them.
Tweens (9–13), on the contrary, are the hardest to reach, even while they are actively seeking cues and learning to form opinions.
Because they are the least accessible, and arguably the most open to influence, tweens are an important puzzle to solve for companies marketing to Gen Z.
Gen Z is set to influence nearly $600 billion dollars of family spending and will comprise 40% of consumers by 2020. To succeed in marketing to this unique segment, any brand that wants in, has to be willing to play by their rules.
My colleague, Gregg Witt and I have co-authored a new book for Motivate Youth. In this guide, you will learn key insights, strategies, and tactics your company can deploy to improve tween marketing efforts.
You can download a free copy of "How to Reach Tweens: The Pivotal Middle Ground of Gen Z" by clicking here.
Instagram has launched an initiative called "Instagram Together" to showcase their continued commitment to developing tools that address bullying, mental health, and other topics impacting tweens, teens and young adults.
As part of Mental Health Awareness month, Instagram announced a hashtag campaign called #HereForYou, which highlights how the social network has helped support its community members struggling with mental health issues.
Reporting Self-Harm on Instagram
Members of the community can also anonymously report others who they feel may be in need of mental health support.
The Self Harm Reporting feature allows users to report a mental health concern to Instagram and send the user a message with mental health resources in their country.
These resources also display when someone visits a hashtag for a sensitive topic, like hashtags associated with self-harm, eating disorders, and suicide.
Motivate — the leading specialized insights and media partner for reaching Multicultural, Youth and LGBTQ segments — announced today its acquisition ofImmersive Youth, an insights-driven agency that connects brands with tweens, teens, and young adults.
The acquisition supports Motivate’s strategy for aggressive expansion into its targeted growth markets: Multicultural, Youth and LGBTQ.
By adding Immersive Youth’s expertise, and dynamic team and leadership, Motivate reinforces its culturally-focused service to world-class brands and agency partners. Post-acquisition, Immersive Youth will be rebranded as Motivate Youth.
“Gen Z is the most ethnically diverse generation in U.S. history, being 47 percent multicultural,” said Trevor Hansen, CEO of Motivate. “Bringing on Immersive Youth is in response to the demand from brands to reach the largest demographic group today.
Immersive Youth’s approach to connecting brands with Gen Z is rooted in firsthand audience dialogue and analytic decisions that inform not only the strategies, but also the visuals, messaging and activation experience.
The team’s rigorous insights-to-activation process comprises a set of guiding principles that are proven to drive results. We are excited about the possibilities that will arise from this union.”
You know that talking with your kids about sex and growing up is important, but it’s tempting to put it off. The reality is that these conversations can’t wait. AMAZE.org takes the awkward out of sex ed. Real info in fun, animated videos that give you all the answers teens actually want to know about sex, your body and relationships.
Fun, Factual & Less Weird Sex Ed
AMAZE.org is creating fun, factual and age appropriate online sex education videos for young adolescents. AMAZE has collaborated with a group of incredible young animators who are enthusiastic about their mission to create edgy, innovative and compelling videos to help young people learn about reproductive health.
The series of sex ed videos are being produced in conjunction with youth health organizations Advocates for Youth, Answer, and Youth Tech Health and animation studio, The Moving Company, to help break the ice and start these critical conversations so that kids get the accurate information they need.
Accurate & Non Judgmental Sex Education
In a time where "fake news" fills our kids social feeds, AMAZE.or provides provides kids, parents and teachers a happy medium between accessible, engaging sex ed materials that don't deviate from the purpose of sex ed in the first place: To provide accurate, non-judgmental answers to curious questions.
I was fortunate to work with the AMAZE.org team as a youth and social media analyst during the early phases of this project and I was was really impressed with all the different stakeholders and educators involved to bring AMAZE.org to life.
AMAZE is providing a critical resource for parents and teens and these videos will really help make talking about sex ed, sexual orientation and puberty much less weird and help shift these discussions into a more open, healthy and normalized.
Non-profit organization I AM THAT GIRL joins forces with 20-year old EP Entertainment/Def Jam Recordings global sensation Alessia Cara to create the “I AM YOU” empowerment campaign. The powerful message of Alessia’s new single “Scars To Your Beautiful” is the lynchpin behind her alliance with I AM THAT GIRL, the national movement that has been inspiring girls for the past six years to love, express, and be who they are through a global peer-to-peer community committed to creating a new norm for girl culture by raising the standard of how girls treat themselves.
“I AM YOU” launches with a short video directed by Kim Jacobs, which delivers the meaningful message of empowerment, strength and inclusivity using a striking visual. The piece, which is narrated by Alessia and features a musical soundbed from her powerful self-anthem, reinforces the message that while we have our own unique stories, we are all connected by the universal truths that make us human.
In the film, a rapid montage of girls of varied ages, sizes, and races flashes by, seamlessly composited together as if they are all speaking as one person, creating an extraordinary focal point for the singular voice that connects them all.
Jacobs shot around 50 young women over the course of one day, including a series of stills set to the playback track of the scripted voiceover. Most of the talent already were members of IATG chapters or volunteers, along with others who ended up taking the IATG pledge after wrapping the shoot.
“The stills were transcoded to feel like motion. Then the process of cutting between the faces required sensitivity, precision and a crazy amount of patience,” explains Jacobs. “Matching three girls blinking their eyes within a second of film is work for only warriors. We worked with the team at EXILE to fine-tune the edit until we finally struck the perfect balance of technique and humanity.”
“In any given second there are multiple faces cut to appear to be one person. I thought this would be a really strong and beautiful way to communicate the core ethos of I AM THAT GIRL,” says Kim Jacobs, who co-wrote the script with IATG Co-founder Emily Greener.
“It takes so many people to make something, especially in film, and all the people involved in every single part of the process were essential to the outcome. The I AM YOU film was generated from pure love.” - Kim Jacobs
“Scars To Your Beautiful” was not only used for the film, but also inspired IATG and Alessia to create an action-focused curriculum for young women everywhere, to shift girl culture and help them transform self-doubt to self-love. The conversation kit, which is downloadable at iamthatgirl.com/alessia, centers around five primary interactive meeting topics, each cued by a lyric from “Scars.”
Our Immersive Youth team got some exciting news! Inc. Magazine has named us one of the Top Youth Marketing Blogs to watch in 2016! Needless to say, we are pretty excited to be in such great company with other digital youth firms like Ypulse and YouthBeat!
The Inc article cites our Gen Z and Millennial Youthvine platform as a key differentiator from other digital youth agencies:
"What sets the company apart is Youthvine, its proprietary online community. Youthvine is a forum driven by young administrators.
It is coordinated to allow owners to communicate with next generation buyers. IYM's agency establishes the relationships, but Youthvine creates a unique experience to engage the new age."
One of the patents I worked on while at The Walt Disney Company (TWDC), Dynamic Trust Score for Evaluating Ongoing Online Relationships, was just approved by the U.S. Patent Office! It was a team effort and centers around kids, privacy and social media. I've included a copy of the full patent below!
A method is provided for a dynamic trust score for evaluating ongoing online relationships. By considering a plurality of user data variables and using validation data from internal and external database sources, a trust score with a high degree of confidence may be provided for establishing and verifying online relationships.
Since the trust score may be dynamically recalculated periodically or on demand, the trust score may also validate over continuing periods of time, as opposed to conventional verification systems that only validate at a single point in time.
Thus, a higher degree of safety, reliability, and control is provided for online services directed towards children or other user classes that may require greater protection.
This report focuses on the way male models are portrayed in advertising and the media – particularly, whether boys are aware of digitally enhanced imagery and whether this impacts their behavior.
The subsequent report, Picture of Health?, revealed that 53% of boys felt advertising was a major source of pressure to look good; only social media (57%) and friends (68%) exerted more influence, while celebrities (49%) were slightly less persuasive.
"This new research shows boys are increasingly worried about their appearance," said Karen Fraser, Credos director.
"We have to recognise that advertising and the wider media play some part in shaping how young people feel about themselves – both positively and negatively."
And while most (80%) were aware of image-manipulation in the media, most appeared to associate this with the female form, as the study reported that they were surprised at the extent to which male images are altered
Two thirds (67%) said it was not acceptable for brands to use digital techniques to change the body image of a model in their advertising
But some secondary school-age boys (aged 11 to 18) suggested the way media portray men in their images could be healthy (33%) or even aspirational (22%)
More generally, the study found that boys hold advertising in high regard, with 73% of secondary school boys agreeing that ads are important in letting them know about products
69% of 16-18 year olds said they had tried new products after seeing an advertisement