chapter  23
8 Pages

Social media and creativity

ByKylie Peppler

Today’s youth, aged 8-18, are avid media consumers, as evidenced by usage trends on sites like YouTube and Facebook, and from ever-increasing participation in online videogame communities (Rideout et al., 2010). New social tools for creating and viewing user-generated content present a substantial shift in the ways that participants in youth culture leverage electronic media to interact and learn from each other. The Kaiser Family Foundation suggests that social media participation is relatively universal among high-school-aged youth across the United States, irrespective of race or class (Rideout et al., 2010). Furthermore, the lines between consumers and producers are being blurred in such spaces, what Jenkins and others refer to as the new “participatory culture” (Jenkins et al., 2009). The extent to which youth move fluidly between consuming and producing media is a by-product of widely available creative tools and Web 2.0 platforms that enable youth to experiment with technology that was previously the exclusive domain of professionals. Notable pockets of youth are creating and sharing media, with some studies even suggesting that 77 percent of social network teens are creating some type of content (Lenhart and Madden, 2007). Though some studies argue that teens use social media platforms primarily for consumption (Chau, 2010; Pempek et al., 2009), longitudinal trends indicate that production practices are steadily on the rise; for example, 39 percent of online teens electronically share original artistic creations (such as artwork, photos, stories or videos) up from 33 percent in 2004, and one in four teens also report remixing content they found online into their own creations, up from 19 percent in 2004 (Lenhart and Madden, 2007). This type of media production denotes a “creative turn” (Sefton-Green et al., 2011) in our

uses of new technologies and brings often overlooked aspects of creativity to the fore. The purpose of this chapter is to take a look at the ways in which social media spaces can be leveraged for creativity, paying particular attention to the ways in which social media support youths’ creative production. Creative production within online learning communities highlights the ways in which youth are appropriating, critiquing, and making novel contributions today. We examine these ideas by first highlighting relevant research in both the fields of creativity and social media. We then present examples from notable online communities, including Do-It-Yourself (DIY), Multi-User Virtual Environments (MUVEs), and other online communities where youth are actively involved in creative activity and discuss the implications for research on creativity.

Finally, we discuss the implications for today’s youth, the potential social media holds, and why such vernacular forms of creativity are important for learning and development.