These days, our youth have grown up in a 24/7 connected culture. They are the first generation of digital natives and the rapid growth of social media over the last decade has been a defining event of their generation. If we want to reach teens and pre-teens, we have to reach them where they already are. And they are online.

The social media world is full of both risks and possibilities:

– Nothing is private
  • It’s about telling your story
– It’s easy to be mean
  • It’s easy to be positive and supportive
– Digital reputations can be permanent
  • Everyone can create and share


  • Keep it Fresh and Shareable: Frame your conversations in ways that youth will want to hear about, and choose words that attract attention. Know what is happening in the news in your neighborhood and nationally, including in pop culture. Cultural events can be great context for drawing kids in to a conversation.
  • Use Youth Talents: Youth are experts in social media—make the most of their skills. The most effective sites trained youth leaders, then handed them the creative keys while also maintaining a healthy balance between oversight and independence. Involving creative people, taking risks and being prepared to move at youths’ speed are all key to success in using social media.
  • Interactivity is Important: Youths see the internet as a two-way street. They aren’t just consumers—they’re also producers. Your online strategy should invite teens to participate (create, like, comment, re-tweet or share).

Try This

Sample Facebook Posts:
“We think communication is essential in a healthy relationship! What do you think?”

“Like this if your boyfriend or girlfriend has no problem when you spend time with family and friends.”

  • Layer Your Strategy: Combine your online tools with offline strategies. Your social media profiles should drive people to your events, and your events should drive people to your website and social media profiles. Host an event, workshop, poetry slam or contest, and include a component where teens have to go online to participate—to vote, enter a drawing, watch a video or read a blog.