We hear so much in the news, in the political arena, and in our communities on the topic of immigration. But there is a different type of immigration issue—of the technological variety—that offers the ability to position younger generations of U.S. Hispanics uniquely and powerfully.
Specifically, while we can make few assumptions in the rapidly evolving landscape of social media, we can affirm the tremendous possibilities open to the group known as the “natives”—those who have grown up with social media, in contrast to the “immigrants”—those who have migrated at least some of their activities to social media from more traditional channels.
Because they arrive with fewer hesitations and view profiles, status updates and blogs as natural parts of the communication exchange, these generations of natives have the distinct advantage when it comes to creating political, economic, social and cultural change—but only if they understand the power of social media beyond its strictly social uses.
A 2010 Pew Research Center report shows that 73 percent of teens between the ages of 12 and 17 use social networking, up from 55 percent in 2006. This statistic is expected to continue to expand as more and more young people grow up with social networks.
According to a recent Associated Press-Viacom poll conducted in March 2011, 53 percent of young American adults (ages 18-24) say that social media has a big effect on their education—from forming study groups, to accessing information on class assignments, to learning about school events, and working on team-based projects. The Pew Internet and American Life Project reports that 51 percent of U.S. Hispanics use a mobile device to access the Internet. But access and usage alone may not be what matters. Where users are going and what they are doing remains the essential differentiator.
While 74% of young adults in the AP-Viacom poll viewed social media as an entertaining distraction, this group would do well to consider social networks equally as a form of empowerment. Young U.S. Hispanics are accessing social networks for information consumption, managing their social lives, and emailing friends. But the real opportunity lies in becoming content generators on topics that will make the real difference. The beauty of social media as an empowerment tool is that it does not require a big budget or an institutionalized backer—just a sound purpose and solid content to support it.
If you are not yet convinced of the power of social media, consider the following:
Examples like these simply could not have happened in the absence of these interactive and dynamic channels. And herein lies the opportunity for the social media natives to optimize their abilities to take a stance on important issues, to carve out a positioning—for a cause, for a voice, for an entire generation—and thus, to shape the future, directly and with widespread impact.
Unlike any generation before, those who were weaned on social networks for conducting their social lives, consuming information, facilitating their educations and advancing their careers are in a wonderfully advantageous position. Those who have a vision and a voice that is clear and authentic can find their way above the noise and on a path toward real and sustainable impact, so that “being the change they wish to see” is only a blog post, a tweet, or an update away.