Daily Archives: July 21, 2013

Youth Networks & Participatory Culture

The potential of YouTube as a platform to support participatory culture seems great, with 100.9 million unique viewers who watched over 6.3 billion videos (January 2009). According to Clement Chau, teens aged 17-19 represent 17% of the YouTube market. One key element that sets YouTube as a pertinent space for youth activity is that it has low entry requirements and its participatory trajectory is gradual. One of the main categories in the large corpus of user content is how-to videos on a variety of topics, from creating music videos and websites to skateboarding. The how-to video creation represents broadcast mentorship. While this type of mentorship is informal and unregulated, Chau sees that it provides opportunities for youth to take on different responsibilities. As a platform for collaborative work, YouTube is limited.

In comparison to YouTube, I find the Digital Youth Network program more compelling in supporting learning as it employs a variety of online tools and resources to provide an authentic new media learning environment. DYN mentors include professional artists and creators who bring a diverse set of skills into the classroom in afterschool programs. I can appreciate the DYN private social learning network “Remix World” for sharing perspective and dialogue with peers and contribution from mentors to scaffold media critique when I see meaningless quality video clips created in YouTube without learning goals or guidance for the young creators (e.g. FiveAwesomeGuys). However, I can agree with Recuero  the positive impact made by the Brazilian kids who used digital media to teach each other “small steps” on YouTube, with the belief that their contribution matters.

Brennan, et al.’s article on Making projects, Making friends, opened my eyes to the powerful learning opportunities in the participatory space that draws from the best of socializing and creating practices.


Chau, C. (2013). YouTube as a participatory culture. New directions for youth development. Wiley Periodicals Inc, Vol. 2013 Issue 137

Remix World, retrieved from http://www.digitalyouthnetwork.org/

Recuero, R. (2012). Brazil: Kids Using Digital Media to Teach Each Other, Change Culture. http://dmlcentral.net/blog/raquel-recuero/brazil-kids-using-digital-media-teach-each-other-change-culture