When You Are Young, They Assume You Know Nothing

“When you are young, they assume you know nothing” in the lyrics of Taylor Swift – don’t they just though?

Who’s ‘they’? Pretty much every aspect of society, from Government to wider media, it’s perpetuated that the young are naïve, ‘snowflakes’, irresponsible and they just need to be told, talked at and directed.

Far from wanting to negate my own advice of not assuming a whole generation behaves the same way, or that young people mysteriously do in fact know everything, you can see how this narrow view of youth leads to only one form of communication – to broadcast.

You don’t need this blog to tell you that this doesn’t work for any audience group in 2021, not least those who are growing up around a far more complex, nuanced digital infrastructure that has intertwined with friendship, education, shopping and entertainment.

But we can see from a wide range of data sources that “people like me” within content helps it become relatable, accessible, and the buzzword authentic. Put simply, peer to peer engagement is bound to be better received but that’s only really the first step, co-creation and making it relevant is no mean feat.

If you’re asking for input and opinion, you better be prepared to act on it or you have to realise that you were never really bothered about the answer in the first place. Reflecting youth voice was the natural starting point for the Hear It Podcast – and I had three brilliant people I wanted to talk to about it.

Alistair Beech from the University of Manchester, Mara Silvestri from One Young World and Dave Musson from The Access Platform featured in the first three episodes of The Hear It Podcast to explore how they reflect youth voice within their work and what we can learn about how to do it better.

Universities are built around the shared experiences students have, so it’s vital that they are represented within your content

Alistair Beech, Manchester University

It’s important to understand what young people are looking for from you. We do surveys, regular Q&As and look at key search terms. Keep talking to them regularly and don’t be arrogant enough to think that your content is what they’re looking for.

Alistair Beech, Manchester University

Listen to Episode 1 with Alistair Beech here

We need to truly see the value in young people. To move away from tokensim, we have to dismantle the idea that only older generations are worth of a voice because that’s simply not true.

Mara Silvestri, One Young World

If we want these genuine connections, we have to change with youth culture and that is constantly evolving with new channels and platforms and we can’t be afraid to use them

Mara Silvestri, One Young World

Listen to Episode 2 with Mara Silvestri here

Universities have always put a lot of stock in the student ambassadors who can play a vital role in the decision-making process for prospective students. They are seen as relatable, engaging and trustworthy

Dave Musson, The Access Platform

A big part of it is trusting those student ambassadors, treating them like colleagues, giving them a clear creative brief and then letting them get on with it!

Dave Musson, The Access Platform

Listen to Episode 3 with Dave Musson here

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