Some might ask: why youth work is done in online environments – isn’t it important to meet face to face with adolescents? Online youth work or web-based youth work as it is called as well, is parallel, complementary way of working with children and young in online environments, where most of young people spend an average of 2 hours in a day. Online youth work is done in Finland by hundreds of communal youth workers and dozens of educated volunteers from various associations in co-operation with companies providing online services. These acvities have increased especially after the school shootings in 2008 and 2009. Online youth work is extended also to concern police forces in Finland, we have special internet police group who is not controlling or supervising young people rather than giving them help, piece of advices and recommendations. But what do we mean by online youth work?
I have divided the forms or practices of online youth work in three different methods. This is not a complite picture of online youth work, but it maybe helps you to understand the field of it better: 1. Internet is used as an aid of informing about events of offline activities. Youth centres can inform about their activities in an electronic bulletin board in their website or use social media. Additional tool that usually supports marketing and informing work. Most common and oldest way of using internet in youth work. 2. Internet techniques are used to make councelling and helping easier. Discussion forums, ask and answer-columns are the most common ones. This is not simultaneous activity, but it usually takes a couple of days to get the answer from the youth worker. 3. Simultaneous online youth work is the most challenging format. Youth work in online communities that is based on real-time contact with young people. Resources are needed. 24/7. The most common way of work is to chat with young people in online services.
Now I will introduce some latest research results from Finland to assert the need of young people being tutors for other youth in online environments. First of all, I would like to remind you that there is no research done in this area of peer support, so these results and ideas are only suggestive and indicates the main problem of the field: lack of resources.
So, what kind of young people are we searching for? Old enough (15-18 years?) Responsible Emphatic Adequate technical skills Experience of being a peer pupil, scoutmaster… Educated in working as a peer person
Let me take you back in the first slide now to see, what the activities could be if young people enter the online environments as peer persons:
Now I will introduce some of the questions in my current research work, my thesis, which is focusing on active online participation. In my thesis I will interview young people who are doing youth information work through Painovirhe-online magazine. I’m concentrating more in motivations behind involving this activity and consequences of taking part of it, but I have also thought of the possible benefits or advantages what young people could receive when they act as peer persons in online environments.
So, now you have been briefly introduced to the novel field of youth work. First I introduced the practices of youth work in online environments by highlighting the pros and cons of each working method. As you maybe recognized from the perspective of research results I showed you, the need for online youth work exists, and it is done in various environments such as Facebook, communal question forums and online chats. The role of young people as being support for other teenagers and helping each other in online environments is unexplored area of youth work, and I assume that with the help of young people, the services could be improved by offering more help to help you alongside with adults. The level of asking help could be lower if you could ask from another teenager with a ”Ask me”-tag in his or hers profile picture. These young persons could also help to improve online services that are directed to young people. My thesis is not going to give extensive overview nor solutions for this issue, but it may help the people working in the field to understand the motivation of active young people even better. These future challenges which I’m showing you, are only the peak of the iceberg and more challenges and interesting research questions will rise up all the time.
Now I would like to thank you for your attention and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask, and if the questions rises up later, here is my email address
Anniina Lundvall Department of Humanities, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland
<ul><li>Internet as a help in youth work </li></ul><ul><li>Internet as a tool in youth work </li></ul><ul><li>Simultaneous online youth work </li></ul><ul><li>Lundvall, A. 2009. Nuorisotyö verkossa. Määritelmiä, menetelmiä, haasteita mediakasvatuksen näkökulmasta . </li></ul><ul><li>How to involve peer pupils / other engaged youth to the process of helping each other? </li></ul>
<ul><li>Particularly important for the respondents were services, where they can deal with sensitive issues concerning themselves (violence in the family, misuse of drugs, sexuality…) </li></ul><ul><li>35% of the respondents would have needed help or have applied for online assistance/support. More than half (55%) have experienced that they have received assistance. </li></ul><ul><li>The most important matter for children was entertainment and talking to other children in a community . </li></ul><ul><li>(Save the Children Finland. Children’s voice 2010 . </li></ul><ul><li>N=1658, 10-17 years old.) </li></ul>
<ul><li>Young people who are connected to youth services within the IRC-Galleria and Habbo, have a positive attitude towards them. … but they also felt that they didn’t got enough time nor attention from the youth workers. </li></ul><ul><li>Mikkola, H. (2009). IRC-Galleria-kysely: Nuorten mielipiteitä poliisista ja nuorisotyöntekijöistä verkossa. University of Oulu. </li></ul><ul><li>Young people are interested to be trained as tutors in online services, but the real challenge is to get them to participate in practical training. (1000 applications> 12 participants) </li></ul><ul><li>(Merikivi, J. (2007). Netari.fi - Nuorisotyön arvo. Finnish Youth Research Network.) </li></ul>
<ul><li>Young people think that online services are only for people who have problems or difficulties in their life. There is a need to improve the services by taking young people in the developing process. </li></ul><ul><li>Viilomaa, P. (2010). Verkossa tehtävä nuorisotyö nuorisotyöntekijöiden ja nuorten silmin : kohtaako verkkonuorisotyö nuoret? HUMAK University of Applied Sciences. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Internet as a help in youth work </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Update the website of youth center </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Writing articles and columns about various issues </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Send information through social media </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Internet as a tool in youth work </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Young people involving discussion forums as tutors/mentors, sharing knowledge and experiences </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Making online videos about issues </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Simultaneous online youth work </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Chat-member (inspirer and reliable conversation partner) </li></ul></ul>
<ul><li>Active online participation (working title) </li></ul><ul><li>Questionnaire and interviews </li></ul><ul><li>8-10 participants from Painovirhe.fi-webzine </li></ul><ul><li>Possible questions: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What kind of experiences of public you have? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What kind of media-related skills you have gained? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What kind of an audience you think when producing content in the webzine? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How do you see your role as a ”peer-publicist”? What does it mean to you? </li></ul></ul>
<ul><li>Confidence to publish their own opinions, </li></ul><ul><li>Forced to justify their own opinions, </li></ul><ul><li>Pleasure of helping, </li></ul><ul><li>Learned skills may be beneficial in the future, </li></ul><ul><li>Improve media communication skills, </li></ul><ul><li>Develop information management skills, </li></ul><ul><li>Improve the atmosphere of a virtual group, </li></ul><ul><li>Friendship and community with other online tutors. </li></ul><ul><li>Lundvall, A. 2011. </li></ul>
<ul><li>What kind of problems and challenges peer persons meet when they are working in online environments? </li></ul><ul><li>What kind of support young people need from their leaders (youth workers)? </li></ul><ul><li>How to manage economic/social/ changes in online environments? </li></ul>
<ul><li>What do you think: is this the future of youth work (or any kind of work with children and young)? </li></ul><ul><li>What should we do: build up our own environments or use the one’s provided by commercial companies? </li></ul><ul><li>What kind of online youth work methods are used in your countries? </li></ul>