The O’Reilly Radar has a great post written by Alex Howard sharing insights from Danah Boyd – How government can engage young people online. It contains some excellent advice for any politician hoping to create a better dialogue with young voters. Here are some soundbites:

Young people don’t want to be the government’s friend on Facebook. They aren’t likely to welcome an official dropping into an online conversation uninvited. And if you want to communicate with them where they live, you need to be on mobile.

Consider the financial crisis, suggests boyd. “Some of the most screwed-over people are college students or recent graduates with student loans. The press covers it, but where are the politicians? This is a moment to engage students. If we don’t meet them on those terms, technology won’t make it magically happen.”

“Make it easy for the message to be spread between friends. Don’t assume that you’ll be another friend in the buddy list. The goal is to be a part of the information sources they draw upon,” said boyd. “If you focus on making content easy to share wherever they go, you don’t need to track everywhere that they are.”

Highly recommend reading the full article.

The article includes a reference to a recent Pew Internet report – Teens and Mobile Phones (April 2010) – that shows just how big a role mobile phones now play in everyday life for young people:

75% of 12 – 17 year-olds now own cell phones, up form 45% in 2004.

72% of all teens – or 88% of teen cell phone users – are text-messagers (up from 51% in 2006).

More than half of teens (54%) are daily text-messagers (up from 38% in February 2008). Two-thirds of teen texters say they are more likely to use their cell phones to text their friends than talk to them to them by cell phone.

  • Half of teens send 50 or more text messages a day, or 1,500 texts a month
  • One in three send more than 100 texts a day
  • Boys typically send and receive 30 texts a day; girls typically send and receive 80 messages per day.
  • However, while many teens are avid texters, a substantial minority are not. One-fifth of teen texters (22%) send and receive just 1-10 texts a day

    The Summary Findings containing more statistics are available online.


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