From Social Media to the Outdoors: Exploring Messages That Connect With Underserved Urban Youth
Keywords:social media, technology, nature, youth development, environmental justice
Despite the mental and physical benefits of visiting natural areas, and increases in outdoor activity participation among U.S. youth overall in the past decade, outdoor access is skewed toward nonurban, nonminority populations. This environmental justice issue is particularly pronounced for minority youth in urban areas, such as the Los Angeles Basin. While decreased contact with nature has been associated with increased technology use, the popularity of new technologies and social media outlets presents novel opportunities to connect underserved urban youth with natural areas. Seven focus groups with 42 urban youth in the L.A. Basin explored underserved youth perspectives on connecting with nature, social media, and how social media can deliver nature-related messages of interest to this population. Content analysis revealed commonly preferred social media platforms and Web-based activities, and six themes related to participants’ perceptions of nature: unique experiences, escape, social connections, challenge, adventure, and accessibility.
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