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Photo: Educational Social Media Content
Growing up in the age of the internet means that Gen Z is no stranger to online educational content. Some of us remember wheeling in a TV set to watch ‘Bill Nye the Science Guy’, but the world of educational content has only gotten vaster. One YouTube search can provide you with information on just about any subject, with no reading or research required. Social media isn’t just a collection of platforms for selfies and relatable jokes, but a useful tool in education. Ask any Gen Z student and it’s more than likely that YouTube videos have been a significant factor in their educational experience.
But what happens when this content leaves the classroom? Do people consume educational content without a teacher pressing play? In short, yes! Educational social media content is taking leaps outside of the classroom and into homes. Students are packing the content with them as they leave campuses or get on the school bus – Just because it’s educational doesn’t mean it isn’t fun.
Educational Social Media – Something for Everybody
Social media has grown to be an undeniable pillar in everyday life. The amount of popular platforms continues to rise, all while the amount of content on each platform rises as well. We’ve seen the rise of YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and, most recently, TikTok. Each social media platform is full of incomprehensible amounts of media, there’s no way to ever experience it all. But the amount of media guarantees a variety of media. Yes, there will always be celebrities posting photos from the Met Gala or promoting a new song, there will always be former classmates or current friends posting about their lives, but there will also always be people sharing their intelligence with the public.
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When people have a passion, it’s natural to want to share it. In some cases, this manifests in deep dives into a popular sitcom, or an analysis of a new Harry Styles album, but in other cases, those passions are more traditionally academic. Historians can share their favorite political scandals or social movements, chemists can explain how soap works or the processes that makeup baking. Academics, scientists, historians, engineers, and more can share their fields in a way that’s accessible to the public. The amount of media being posted by these creators means everyone can find their niche. Maybe you didn’t love physics class in high school, but a TikTok explaining in layman’s terms how your headphones work is interesting, it’s engaging; It’s educational but it isn’t school.
As a teenager, you essentially are learning what your school system has deemed the important and necessary subjects. Those who are not STEM-minded still need to take algebra, and those who would never read for pleasure still need to learn about literature. Online, however, you can pursue any content and any subject that interests you. Your mind can wander, or you can focus on one particular subject, so long as it’s interesting to you. Through social media, you can learn about just about anything, and in any form.
If you learn best from lectures or conversation, there’s likely a podcast that will interest you. If you prefer to read, Twitter profiles and in-depth captions contain all the information you need. Learning is not a one-size-fits-all experience, but a school environment does not allow for individualization in your educational experience. Online, you can do whatever works for you; No stakes, but endless possibilities.
Have a Question? Ask Hank Green!
Anybody who has sat in a science class in the past decade is likely to recognize Hank Green. Hank Green and his brother John (yes, the author John Green) created Crash Course in 2011 with the goal of making learning fun. And it worked! Beginning with a world history series, hosted by John, and Hank’s biology series, Crash Course evolved into a one-stop-shop for all things academia, with a series spanning topics from computer science to film criticism. Just about any teacher can find a Crash Course video to aid their lesson, but the classroom isn’t the only place we see Hank Green.
Hank’s TikTok account has gained over 6 million followers, many for one specific reason. If a TikTok user is scrolling through their ‘for you’ page and encounters something they can’t explain (what are electrolytes? How does popcorn pop? Are all bees born in hives?) there’s a standard protocol. If you have a question, send it to Hank. Although Hank Green cannot be an expert in every topic, he’s an accessible academic resource, skilled at researching and translating his findings into terms his followers can grasp. And he’s entertaining while he does it! Hank has built a rapport with his audience, and his videos are engaging and personable, all while he answers the questions we didn’t know we were curious about.
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What Does This Mean?
The way that young people reach out to Hank Green to fill in blanks and satisfy curiosity is telling of a greater situation. It isn’t that young people don’t want to learn, that was never the case. The difference that has made us reach out and ask questions now, rather than before, is the accessibility of concise, relatable answers. Users like Hank understand their audiences and can present information without the technical terms and background that require years of education to fully understand. Content is being made with the intention to educate the everyman, the teenager swiping through social media with nothing but curiosity.
So, yes, young people are seeking social media content that they can learn from. Education in a classroom and education on social media are entirely different beasts. It’s not that kids and teenagers don’t want to learn, it’s just that they’re being offered a new venue, a new way to grasp content. Even if your favorite part of school is lunch or extracurriculars, you can love to learn, and learning in the manner you prefer is waiting for you.
By Lara Glennon
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Lara Glennon is an aspiring screenwriter looking to share her love and passion for all things film and television. She aims to use her writing to shine a light on artists who are working to make change, both in media and in the world. The Hollywood Insider’s focus on substance over gossip is perfect for Lara, as she wants to highlight the good in the world and those who create it. She enjoys spending her time creating and consuming art, searching for unique voices and ideas in media.