What is the best way to communicate with teens?

Showcase Forums Teen Science Cafe Workshop Discussion 2015 What is the best way to communicate with teens?

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    In our sign-in form we ask teens for their name, address, email address and phone number. There is a question about weather they can be contacted via text message about future events. In Albuquerque, we have implemented electronic sign ups using Google docs, this has been a blessing compared to the illegible hand written names and email addresses.

    I struggle with knowing the “best” way to reach students.

    Texting means that I have to enter one phone number at a time on my personal cell phone and send a text message. Sending to a group means that I am sharing their number with others because it appears in the group message. Texting only lets me send to ~15 people at a time and can be cumbersome. Plus, each message has limited characters if I want it to make sense across platforms, where it might get cut into 2-3 messages if it was too long.

    I email messages with attached pdf flyers. I never know who is reading them. In October I sent an email with Mail Chimp and it tracked zero (0) opens for the message. It is difficult to know if students email or check their email frequently.

    Calling is time consuming, although I have called over 100 students at one point to recruit youth leaders.

    Social Media? Texting? Email?

    RJ Montano

    From where I stand, not being a teenager anymore :) I feel texting is a great way to get out short messages to the teens such as café reminders, etc. I don’t think we should discount Social Media, but we need to have a way to contact the teens that they will actually read (or at least glance at!). I did a little research after our call last night and the best way I can figure to send mass texts is to do it via email. It’s a little bit of legwork initially, but I feel it would be worth it. Nothing compared to 100 phone calls! Let me know if you would like more info on how to set it up. I will gladly help!

    Michelle Hall

    To reach the teen leaders, I have used texting with much success. Sometimes, if the information is lengthy, I will text a short note and ask them to read an email or go to the FB page. Most teen leaders reply quickly, IF they have your phone number in their phone.

    To make it a bit easier, I use the Groups App on my iphone. It allows me to enter groups in the phone and then text them. I create the groups in my Contacts on my mac, which get shared with my iPhone and automatically loaded into the Groups text app. The app only allows batches of 10 texts at a time. I include myself on the first group, then retext the message I get to my phone to the rest of the groups of 10 persons as needed.

    Is anyone else using other tools for blasting text messages to large groups?


    Reaching teens is tricky because there isn’t a “one size fits all” solution. Some teens prefer texting while others prefer email. Maybe we can query our teens in person at the next cafe to find out the best way to reach them and provide an incentive for their response. Have one reliable youth leader be in charge of collecting this information at the sign-in table, and attending teens that provide their contact information will be entered into a drawing for something cool (iTunes card, Starbuck’s gift card, etc.)

    Lawrence Norris

    In Arlington we implement the TSC via 2 high schools. The TSC is a student-driven, after-school, problem/active-learning (PABL) activity. So we have the advantage of use the schools’ communication mediums which include email, Twitter, the school daily newspaper and video news cast. The students have also used demos in the common area as a way to ‘get the word out’.

    So our issue is not so much getting information transmitted, rather how do we get more students to bite on the information. There we appeal to students’ natural curiousity as we try to get them to be self-advocates for (PABL). For instance we are using the National Academy of Engineering’s EssayGirl contest on Sports Engineering to engage every sports team. We also push the connection between science and the arts to engage the musically and artistically inclined. Our goal is to help every student see the science in whatever interests them.

    Nicole Gugliucci

    I added another post about social media (I keep leaning towards Instagram and Tumblr for this demographic) but I’m curious how texting works. Do they sign up for updates that you push through a service?

    – Nicole

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