Ethnic Minority Immigrant Youth as Information Mediaries

InfoMe receives Google Research Award to study “How Youth are Disruptively Redefining Information Work through Visual Media”


Youth are society’s game changers as they lead in replacing text with visual media—video, stills, emoji, etc.,—as the standard bearers of information. Today’s teens, who learned to spell, write, and communicate by searching for videos on YouTube and creating their own fandoms, are actively, disruptively, defining information as visual and are at the forefront of leading society’s creation and use of visual information in the everyday. Teens are thus redefining the nature of information work: how information is created, shared, searched, repurposed, and curated as they engage issues of identity, permanency, privacy, security, overload, social connectedness and currency against the backdrop of peer engagement. For ethnic minority/immigrant teens, visual media is the engine that powers them to meld languages and landscapes, and to serve as information and technology mediaries on behalf of others and within social systems such as schools, families, neighborhoods, and across cultures. For our Google Research Award, we use our Teen Design Day methodology to carry out co-design in community field settings to understand how teens use visual technology in their daily lives. We ask “why video, specifically, is the linguistic expressive medium of choice among teens? How teens use it to communicate and carry out information work with different stakeholders? And, how can these behaviors be supported based on youths’ design ideas?” Beyond demonstrating the complex, invaluable, apparently ubiquitous, and mostly invisible role that teens plays as information providers in our rapidly changing and diverse world, the findings will indicate new ways of recognizing and organizing the increasing magnitude of information around us.

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