ISIS's Annual Conference on Youth + Tech + Health

By the time most people have poured their first cup of coffee, I have checked my e-mail, texted my best friend, uploaded a #TBT photo on instagram, posted a new status on facebook, and microblogged about my life on twitter. If this seems overwhelming to you, know that it’s just a typical morning for me. 

Being a millennial means I’m constantly connecting to others virtually throughout my day – from morning until night. It doesn’t feel like it’s too much, it feels absolutely normal. However, there is more to it than just connecting for fun. As a millennial, I was raised on social networks. Whenever I had a question about anything, I would “Ask Jeeves”. Honestly, Jeeves was everything to me. He answered a ton of my questions on life that I didn’t feel comfortable asking anyone else in person. As you can see, technology changes rapidly as our need to keep up and stay informed change too. 

There’s something about my generation that some may not entirely understand. Because we grew up with social media and texting, it has become the primary form of communication for most of us. So there’s a real gap when it comes to engaging with youth if you’re not connecting to them on their phones. 

However, there are some health organizations and agencies dabbling in mobile connectivity but no one has mastered it yet. I don’t necessarily have the answers but I’ve been working on and brainstorming what will and won’t work with youth – mostly because I think like one and can foresee obstacles before others would. 

This gap needs to be filled now. Luckily, YTH Live, ISIS’ annual conference on Youth+Tech+Health, is occurring on April 7-9 in San Francisco. This 3 day conference is the leading event for health and technology professionals to get together with youth, parents and community leaders to advance the health of young people. It will be my first time attending the event but an amazing opportunity to learn and engage with professionals and network with other youth leaders on this much needed change. The event will be an amazing opportunity for everyone to connect and discuss the importance of engaging them in discussions. ISIS has a Youth Tech Board which helped review all abstracts this year. The conference will have a lot of youth led projects and panels highlighted. I’m really looking forward to it!

ISIS is also hosting a Google Hangout on Thursday, February 14th to discuss mobile technology and accessing youth where they feel most comfortable. If your agency or organization is interested in learning more, I suggest attending this virtual event. Click here for more details on the Google Hangout.

Here are some of my suggestions for non-profit organizations working with youth:

     1. Get youth on board as much as possible!

     2. Invest in a full-time social media manager who is passionate about the work of the organization.

     3. Ensure your website is mobile-friendly and that all the functions on a desktop are accessible from a smartphone or tablet. 

     4. Prevent awkwardness by not forcing “youth lingo” if you’re not comfortable using it. 

     5. Create new trends, don’t just follow them. Take opportunities to read up on research and social media blogs.

     6. Prepare to be engaged with your audience and virtual community 24/7!

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