In the last decades media landscapes have evolved rapidly. Traditional journalistic media has now to compete with openly accessible online news outlets and citizen journalism. Business models have changed drastically as well (Agrawal, 2016). While product-driven businesses dominated the last century, this one is taken over by data capitalism, companies that trade service accessibility for user data and targeted advertising revenue. Media landscapes are a fast changing conglomeration of information services on- and off-line, competing for a shared audience.
With most of the population connected to the net, young people are amongst those using it the most. The internet is for young people primarily a social space, a place to meet up, communicate and get in touch with likeminded people (Eurostat, 2017). Current research investigating the media use and habits of young people is often handled on a national level, such as the Austrian Youth Internet Monitor (Saferinternet.at, 2019) or the KIM and JIM Studies in Germany (Medienpädagogischer Forschungsverbund Südwest, 2019). It is certainly possible to draw trends towards social messaging apps and content sharing amongst young people. Young people are not just out there to chat, they create and shape the internet they want to see.
This creates a wildly different reality for today’s youth, than it was for prior generations. Young people are embedded in online communities, which shape their values and beliefs. Popular apps are ever changing and young people tend to leave platforms once older generations start inhabiting them (Monica Anderson, 2018). The flow of information has changed, with more information accessible than ever before, creating uncertainty in the process.
This creates new challenges to youth workers:
- How can we reach the young audience?
- Where do they meet?
- What social support systems do they have online?
- Have the support needs of young people changed?