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Home » Articles »

Creating with Media: Teens


Other ages: Preschoolers | Grade Schoolers | Pre-Teens

By the time your child hits the teen years, she’s probably had some experiences making art and may even have decided whether the “artist” label is something she wants to wear or not. Teenagers, after all, try on and reject many different labels as they seek to find an identity that feels right to them. It’s possible, though, that she may be carrying around a narrow definition of art as “something that people with natural talent make and you either have it or you don’t.” Whether she’s just starting to make art or has a jam-packed art portfolio, media tools, like design software and handheld video cameras, may take her down a new creative path of self-expression.

  • Introduce your teen to new ways to tell stories in both written and ora forms.
    Take your teen on a tour of the many online magazines and web journals where she can publish her poetry, stories and thoughts. Help her make her own book, magazine or literary blog with photographs and construction paper or using freeware that incorporates electronic text, images, sounds and video.
  • Get your teen making visual art.
    Digital cameras will put your teen behind the lens and get her thinking about framing a shot, while software such as Adobe Photoshop, which is used by designers and other professionals, will put her in front of the computer screen where she can manipulate her photos and design original artwork.
  • Encourage your teen to create original songs, recordings, and sound effects — and to share them online.
    There is an abundance of tools that will give your teen the freedom to manipulate a recording and to share it via websites and apps. Explore audio production tools from the free to the commercial, talking about what it means to try and build a following of listeners among people your teen may not know.
  • Direct your teen to local and online creative communities that feature training, especially those designed for and by youth.
    Many afterschool groups and community organizations offer programs in video, sound and digital production. While these can be local in their focus, like the Bay Area Video Coalition’s Next Gen Programs several offer a rich array of support materials online that anyone can use.
  • Find out how your teen understands game play and social networking as opportunities for creative expression.
    Whether it’s selecting an avatar to represent your teen’s player onscreen or decking out a profile space or sending out a live stream of micro-blog posts, games and social networks are outlets for self-expression. No doubt your teen is putting thought into how she represents herself among her peers and talking to her about these choices may be an eye-opener for you as well as a gateway to her creativity.
  • Give your teen the opportunity to become part of a larger community of youth filmmakers.
    Have your teen formally submit her videos to film festivals created for students, such as the Urban Visionaries Film Festival and Young Cuts Film Festival, or simply establish a more informal channel on a video-sharing site. Either way, you’ll have the opportunity to talk about audience and privacy considerations.
  • Encourage your teen to write investigative news pieces or to comment on those produced by formal news outlets.
    Youth Outlook, Youth Communication and Street-Level Youth Media are examples of publications by and for young people. Aside from producing independent stories, though, your teen also can engage in “civic dialogue,” posing questions and comments in response to those she encounters on news blogs and Web sites.
  • Encourage your teen to pursue creative internships.
    Increasingly, media and news outlets are relying on student interns to support the work they do, often because young people have a familiarity with technologies and social networking tools. Help your teen reach out to local TV and radio stations, both commercial and public media.
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