One of the things I love about the work I do at Amiable Communications is that I get to work with young people in the Territory.
Whether that’s running skills development and confidence workshops, training in media and content development, collecting community feedback or through comedy and arts – every time I work with teenagers I feel incredibly lucky to hear what they have to say.
A lot of young people are villanised in the media. And as a 30-year-old I remember being a teenager and seeing reports in the news about my own generational apathy and delinquency. I personally don’t think it’s very fair and the greater majority of young people are hard working, global-thinking leaders who we should invest time and energy into – especially with the uncertainty they face in 2020 and beyond.
So, here’s a few tips from me about working with young people that hopefully help you if you get the opportunity to engage with NT youth.
- They are people.
- Sometimes adults freak out a bit around young people. They try too hard to impress them or worse, they talk down to them like they’re children. The easiest thing to remember is that they are humans and if you treat them how you’d like to be treated you can’t really go wrong.
- They know more about global trends, issues and culture than you could imagine.
- Today’s teenager has grown up with the entire world at their fingertips, or in their pockets on smart phones. Young people don’t just think local they think global – they find inspiration and cultural references from across the planet. This means they probably know more about things than many adults give them credit for. My advice is to ask questions and then LISTEN – we might be older but doesn’t mean we know better.
- They are incredibly tech/internet savvy.
- Young people don’t download viruses. They can scan pages on the internet and know instantly what’s a hoax and what’s legit. They problem solve with technology with the ease that we rode bikes. A lot of adults don’t trust teenagers to work things out themselves, but I can guarantee you they can. For many young people they’ve never been given the space or confidence to solve things independently (they’re often babied or patronised) so I try really hard to celebrate this when they do.
- They need to be engaged.
- Could you imagine growing up with social media and having constant notifications and stimulation all the time! Young people have ultra active brains which sometimes means focussing on something quietly and passively for a long time is hard to do – I don’t blame them! What you need to do is make interactions and learning fast-paced, fun, engaging and diverse to keep their minds involved. Think about them as super computers on fast broadband and our minds are a still on dial up… we gotta speed up how we deliver or they’ll be bored.
- They care… A LOT
- Young people have an incredible amount of empathy and care for other people. They connect on human levels faster and in more intense ways than we used to. They understand that actions have consequences and they want to make a positive change in the world. This can sometimes make them feel overwhelmed because they care a lot – but haven’t been given the tools or spaces to use that care and help. Provide opportunities for them to see the results of their actions and use that empathy as a tool to teach with.
Hope this helps. I’m incredibly passionate about young people being treated as people and look forward to meeting lots of future leaders in 2020.