Support young people to be creators, not consumers

Digital technology can support young people to be 'content creators' rather than consumers and the internet offers a platform for sharing and collaborating on a personal, social, cultural, political or economical level. But many young people aren't taking advantage of these opportunities.


  1. Digital technology supporting young people

    On behalf on the Nominet Trust, we have been working on to explore key messages on how digital technologies can support young people to engage socially and economically with their communities. You can find the latest blog posts from the project here. From an initial online crowd sourcing process and a roundtable workshop at the RSA in April 201210 key messages were drawn out.

    This storify seeks to curate key online content on one of these messages - using real-life examples, linking to research and providing insights for action. 

  2. Digital technology can enable young people to be content creators: 

    "Youth can learn video making, digital engagement etc. - and if it aims to be social and community focused - imagine the possibilities!"

    Many youth don't take advantage of digital opportunities for creativity - and action to support them to do so is important. From creating multimedia content, to providing feedback on the good and the bad - young people can be involved in shaping digital resources developed to support them.
  3. Celebrating creativity 

    Ken Robinson's TED talk on education and creativity is a good starting point to understand this message. 
  4. Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity | Video on
  5. He argues that young people's creativity must be celebrated and harnessed rather than discouraged because of old fashioned and outdated views on education, employment and lifestyles.

    David Gauntlett, Professor of Media and Communications at the School of Media, Arts and Design, argues that fostering creativity - including digital participatory cultures - is a powerful way to transforms lives and societies. Take a look at the site here.
  6. What does this mean in practice?

    Young people's participation
    The National Youth Agency promotes young people's participation and describes it as children and young people having the right to take an active part in shaping where they live, the services they use and the running of local and national organisations. One of the benefits they list in their briefing paper is that it encourages young people as 'creators, not consumers, as active participants.' 
  7. Youth Work
    Written by Mark Smith, Creators not Consumers first appeared in 1980 with two main themes run through it. 

    "First, there is a concern to encourage young people to get involved in organizing things for themselves. This flows from a belief in the benefits of associational life both for the happiness and self confidence of individuals, and for the strengthening of community life. Second, there is an invitation to workers to embrace and explore their educational role."
  8. Although the 1980s Youth Work classic doesn't mention digital technology at all, many of the message it contains, about the informal learning potential of being involved in creating both content, and activities, could inspire digital innovation. 
  9. Creating for social change and digital literacy
    The London Borough of Brent Safeguarding Children Board commissioned the development of a set of activities to build young people's digital literacy. One of them, 'Content Creators', was designed to support young people to create positive content about their local area – using this as an opportunity to develop their online citizenship skills and awareness of e-safety but also making media that could be brought together to share young people's views on their local area, and create greater engagement between young people and their wider communities.
  10. Young people can be creators not consumers in employment and business

    Young people spend on average 50 hours online each month—just at home. And 74% of that time is spent doing things “just for fun.” Spark+Mettle want to capitalise on this chunk of their daily routines “use the time spent on the internet in a much more productive way.” They are doing this to support young people to get into employment, learn new skills, help others by creating content and shaping the programme. 

  11. Turning creativity into content 

  12. A recent report by the European Commission concluded that 'while young Europeans may be good at using mobile smartphones and playing video games, they lack basic digital skills that could make them more easily employable in a rapidly digitizing economy.'
  13. Digital skills are now vital for education and employment. Those seeking employed are 25% more likely to get work when they have web skills, and, once in that job, they'll earn up to 10% more. These stats come from this article.
  14. Challenges ahead

    While young people might have - or in some cases are lacking - the core digital skills needed for a digital economy, they aren't being harnessed or used to their full potential. 

    1. What digital innovations could support this?
    2. Is this is a small part of a bigger problem such as education, the economy and future workforces? 
    3. How can we support young people to understand the need, power and opportunities of being digital savvy?
    4. Are schools and informal education providers equipping young people with the skills they need?
  15. Shape this story

    What are we missing? The clips and snippets above are designed to help someone new to the idea of MESSAGE (e.g. co-design) to think about how it might apply to their work. We know there are lots more links, video clips, slide shows and photos out there we could include here, and other lines of this story we could expand upon. But we need your help to find them. You can tweet us @alexjamesfarrow, @timdavies or @davidwilcox with ideas, or drop in your comments below.