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Friday, June 9 • 10:00am - 10:20am
Black Yute Digital Content Creators Lab

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In 2012, danah boyd wrote It’s Complicated: the Social Lives of Networked Teens, which outlined and described the social media use of American teenagers with data from a study that began in 2006 (boyd, 2012). Decades old at this point, boyd’s research, findings, and conclusions, reflected some of the realities of highly immersive, ubiquitous, and expanding digital networks in which teenagers actively participate. Research and discourses on teens and their experiences on and with various digital networks are increasingly relevant to social science, education, and humanities-based fields and research as the proliferation of digital media continues to shape the lives and experiences of youth.

To date, In Canada, there has been minimal research or accounts that examine how youth engage with social media and other socially informed platforms. Considering the diverse regions like the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), media research on youth must also examine how the intersectional identities of youth factor into their digital experiences. When considering the social and geopolitical differences between countries like Canada and the United States, for example, studies on the digital lives of American teens create opportunities for similar types of research studies on the experiences and perspectives of Canadian youth in context to media, representation, and cultural production in socially networked spaces.

Black Youth Digital Content Creators Lab (BYDCCL) is a research project that explores the contemporary digital lives and experiences of Black youth in the GTA, from the perspectives of study participants. The study explores how media education (technology training and critically engaged pedagogies) can be used to support Black youth in learning and understanding digital media. Critical media education supports any effort by youth to engage with and contribute to media representations based on how their digitally creative and/or spoken expressions focus on their critical perspectives.

The study is based on a 12-week contemporary culture and media education program that is designed to engage participants in open discussions on contemporary issues and provide media training that supports their desired content creation. The program provides space for Black youth to examine historical and contemporary connections to issues, then using digital techniques, create content to amplify the voices, opinions, and realities of intersectional Black youth living in the GTA.

The data, collected through a combination of qualitative methods (focus groups, digital content creation, surveys) and program activities, captures, describes, and showcases the digital lives and perspectives of Black youth in context to their identities. The themes identified by the research team (including participants) demonstrate how advancing community approaches to youth engagement and centring Black youth voices, perspectives, and cultural productions, can effectively contribute to academic fields such as media studies, cultural studies, and education.

This presentation will highlight the research study methodologies, which focused on community-engaged methods and participatory strategies while taking an interdisciplinary approach to collaborate and learn from Black youth in the Greater Toronto Area. In the end, scholarship from this study builds on media and cultural studies knowledge and assists in mapping the experiences of intersectional Black youth with context to Canada.


Sharnia Navaratnam

Toronto Metropolitan University, Canada
avatar for Kisha McPherson

Kisha McPherson

Toronto Metropolitan University

Taia Goguen

Toronto Metropolitan University, Canada

Friday June 9, 2023 10:00am - 10:20am EDT
ARC E-02