Can youth club combine forces with the internet to create a modern desirable youth service?

The internet… the world in which many of us now live in. People can access the internet from near enough anywhere in the world, young people are growing up in an age where access to the internet is increasing and alongside this is their access to social media, gaming, online study, shopping and a whole host of other things.

Upon reflection of my own experience (I am considered a young person) I can remember back to my Primary School education where we had one computer for the whole school to access which meant that we used it around once a fortnight or possibly even less, this changed during High School when I had I.T lessons at least once a week and a library with constant free computer access. Now in 2012 I feel strange if I cannot access a computer/the internet for one day, everywhere I go there is computer access, my home, my phone (for when I’m on my travels), my family and friend’s homes, university, work, the list goes on…

If I can take an example from one of the youth clubs that I work in, we have 2 computers for people to use with an internet connection speed of around 0.2mbps (only a slight exaggeration). So as you can imagine people don’t come to us to use our internet!! They come for other things such as sport, cooking, arts and crafts and mostly for social, chill out time in a comfortable place. But for every one person who comes to youth club in our area there must be at least another 100 that don’t attend. Are they all hanging out on social networking sites such as facebook? Browsing the internet or playing games on consoles that use the internet to create gaming communities such as the Xbox live?

The reason that I am reflecting about this is that I can see a drop in the number of attendees at youth club which my team and my manager have discussed. My manager believes it is because young people are all on Xbox live and I have come to the conclusion that while we do not ‘compete’ with the internet for young people’s interest the internet is definitely an addictive, exciting place to be! So will we get with the times and become partners with the internet in the way that we work (for example utilising it for it’s benefits and combining this with our work to create a more tailored youth service) or will we soon end up in a history book/online document?

*Note I am aware that some youth services have already utilised the internet in their work with young people and if you would like to share stories of this please do so.

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