Can You See Me Now?

Haley Smith | May 24, 2012

In the past few years weve seen video chatting and streaming rapidly pick up steam. Youtube has over 490 million unique users per month and video calling can be accessed on almost any smart phone or computer.

Its hard to believe that video conferencing was actually first introduced in 1964 at the Worlds Fair held in New York. People couldnt imagine that this type of foreign communication would ever take the place of the modern day telephone. Its not much of a surprise that its taken over 40 years to become a competing form of communication.

Video chatting can be cumbersome, pixelated and you can count on the call being dropped at least once. And are you looking at me, or the little box in the corner of yourself? Because you keep fixing your hair

But hey, its free!

With its quick expansion, the ease and use of video chatting has greatly increased, especially for teens. Amanda Lenhart with the Pew Research Center ((http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2012/Teens-and-online-video.aspx)) found that

  • 37% of Internet users ages 12-17 participate in video chats with others using applications such as Skype, Google Talk or iChat. Girls are more likely than boys to have such chats.
  • Social media users are much more likely than those who do not use social media to engage in all three video behaviors studied.

You tube is the 3rd ranked most visited website and 18.7 million of those viewers per month are teens. ((http://www.youtube.com/advertise/demographics.html)) Pull up the home page and youll find more than 35 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. ((http://inspiredm.com/youtube-infographic/)) In fact Lenhart also found that

  • 27% of internet-using teens 12-17 record and upload video to the Internet. One major difference between now and 2006 is that online girls are just as likely these days to upload video as online boys.
  • 28% of teen cell phone owners record and upload video
  • 13% of internet-using teens stream video live to the Internet for other people to watch.

Even though the average teen sends over 60 texts a day ((http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2012/Teens-and-smartphones/What-teens-do-with-phones.aspx?view=all)) it is clear that visible communication for young adults is important. This can be both encouraging and a little bit terrifying at the amount of video they are both consuming and interacting with.

The question is what are the implications for this and what can we do to interface with it?

A report from the Joan Ganz Coney Center ((Always Connected: The new digital media habits of young children)) suggests the following:

  1. Provide a balanced media diet: Since teens are watching and interacting with more media than ever its good to have boundaries on how much they are consuming.
  2. A chance for intergenerational dialogue: Media provides a lot of opportunity for adults to interact with kids. From family members that live far away Skype is a great channel to talk face-to-face. Send a video to your kids telling them how much you love them or spend some time making a fun family video with your kids.
  3. Bridge the home, school and community: What role can technology play in bridging what children are doing at home and the structured learning environment of school? Mobile devices help kids make connections between spheres of their everyday world, helping them link what theyre doing in school with what they do in after-school programs and at home.


Haley Smith

Haley Smith is a first year student at Fuller Seminary from Dallas, Texas working to earn her Masters in Theology and Ministry. She graduated from Baylor University with a BA in Journalism and has worked the past four years in fundraising for ministries and social justice organizations. Haley is one of our incredible FYI interns.


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