Youth engagement has taken a huge growth over the past six years with the advent of social networks. The activities that promote youth development and social change movements are now shifting to the World Wide Web, fostering online communities based on interests, causes, and purpose. Young people are promoting ideas, vocalizing their goals, organizing community groups, engaging in political discussions, reclaiming identities, creating identities, connecting with others, and taking over these networks full force as their own personal environments. The engagement over social networks “forms and maintains social capital, a dimension that assesses one’s ability to stay connected with members of a community.”
This connection is stimulated by the activity characteristic of the particular virtual community. Social network sites engage activity such as individual presentation of oneself, articulating and building outside networks, creating work-related collaboration, building romantic relationships, provoking political debates, connecting college student populations and opportunities, sharing hobbies and interests, and essentially forming anything that meets the imagination, made possible through the innovative capacities of current technology. Today’s youth are able to “tie offline networks to online memberships” through current social network sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, Friendster, and Blogger. They support the “maintenance of existing social ties and the formation of new connections, connecting with others outside their pre-existing social group or location, liberating them to form communities around shared interests.”
This increased social capital enhances youth engagement and manages interactions regarding current events around the world, major life changes, and relations as they move from one offline community to another such as changing schools or joining different civic and community groups. The intensity and usage over online communities are reliable indicators of current trends among youth and psychological well-being. The robust growth of this current technology is steadily growing and becoming a greater percentage of daily youth interactions.