Creating digital content: the basics
Many children and teenagers like to create and post digital content online.
Their content includes text, images, videos, animations and blogs. They create it on digital devices including computers, laptops, mobile phones and tablets. And they post the content on social media and other channels like Facebook, Flickr, Blogger, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Tumblr, WhatsApp and YouTube.
Some children also like creating games or stories on websites designed to teach children the basics of computer programming, like Scratch, Tynker and Challenge You.
You can support your child’s creative online activities by:
- letting your child try different ways of conveying an idea or expressing his creativity
- encouraging your child to experiment with creating content and to learn through trial and error
- encouraging your child to show you what he and others are creating – for example, content he thinks is funny or clever
- making suggestions for improvement only if your child asks for your opinion or advice.
Viewing and enjoying your child’s online creativity together can be a great way for you and your child to connect.
What teenagers get out of creating digital content
When teenagers create online content, they’re being creative. Creating content, whether it involves remixing someone else’s material or making something original, boosts your child’s sense of creativity and personal achievement.
Publishing work online is a form of self-expression, so it can also increase your child’s sense of confidence and help her learn about her strengths.
Creating and uploading content – and being part of online communities – is also a way of connecting. Most teenagers post their work where others can access it, and they enjoy discussion about their work. Sharing creative content can have positive effects on young people’s sense of community, identity, belonging and connection.
Creative online activities can also increase your child’s digital literacy and help him to learn how to use a wide range of software programs, online platforms and apps. Teachers are beginning to make use of teenagers’ digital literacy and skills at school.
Because online creativity can help teenagers express themselves, develop confidence and build skills, it can be good for their wellbeing and mental health.
Safe ways to create online content
Any content uploaded to the internet is permanent. Anyone with the right skills and technology can access and view it. They can also download, edit and upload it in a different way somewhere else on the internet. This means that you have to be careful about what you put online.
To help your child create online content safely, it’s a good idea to go through the following issues with her.
Content that’s appropriate to upload and download
It’s a good idea to set some ground rules about what’s appropriate to post and share. This includes talking about:
- protecting privacy
- not creating or sharing sexually explicit content
- getting permission from people you photograph or video before publishing online
- respecting other people.
It’s also worth remembering that some phones and cameras add data to photos that can identify where they were taken. Check what location services are enabled on your child’s camera or mobile phone — and switch off the ones your child doesn’t need.
What personal information and images does your child want to make public and available for the world to see and potentially ‘remix’?
Avatars are images, pictures or fictional characters that you create to represent you in video games, social media profiles, online communities and other platforms. If your child uses avatars, he should think about the links between himself and his avatars. If the links are too close, he might be sharing too much information about himself.
Content created by others featuring your child
What is your child happy for other people to publish? You could talk about some scenarios that might upset or offend your child, and how she would deal with them. For example, your child might be upset if a friend uploads a photo she doesn’t like.
A lot of online content is copyrighted – this means it belongs to someone else and you’re not supposed to copy or use it. If your child wants to copy or modify online content, it’s a good idea for him to use ‘open content’. This is content that you’re allowed to copy, use, remix and share.
Keeping content backed up
It can be upsetting for your child to lose her creative efforts. Content that’s been uploaded can usually be downloaded again, but you can save time and energy by backing up your child’s work on your home computer or device.
Common teenager-generated content
Here are some types of content that many teenagers like to create.
Photos and videos
Many teenagers upload photos and videos. Sometimes they edit their photos and videos before uploading them. Teenagers upload to sites like YouTube and WhatsApp. Many sites and mobile apps can publish to multiple sites like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. This means that a photo, video or comment posted to one site can appear on others at the same time.
Social media profiles
Profiles on social media sites like Facebook might include photos, personal information and descriptions, like details about things the user likes.
Blogs are regular diaries or commentaries on people’s lives or on topics that interest them. Blogs can be text, photos or video (vlog). Blogging is a popular way for teenagers to share ideas or aspects of their lives.
This allows users to send and receive moment-to-moment messages – text, photos or video – via their mobile phones or computers. Teenagers might use apps like Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.
Remixing and mashups
This is editing existing content like text, images and audio – for example, creating a mobile phone ringtone by mixing MP3 tracks. Another example is downloading and editing images or graphics from the internet then uploading them to decorate a personal profile, blog or webpage.
Fan fiction and collaborative writing
This is creatively rewriting or experimenting with existing genres, storylines and characters from popular movies and novels.
This is creating online game add-ons or modifications – for example, creating alternative worlds or new tools that can be used in an existing online multiplayer game.