When my middle school teen came home with the yearly papers for the science fair, she was stumped about what topic to cover this year. After talking about possible topics for a bit, she chose to research the possible connection between food allergies and age, but she had no idea how to collect enough information from people suffering food allergies to earn a decent grade on her science fair project. Eventually, she chose to use social media to connect with food allergy patients from around the world; taking a chance that someone would answer her brief survey. The results were much more than she could have anticipated. Within the first few days, she has received more than 1,000 hits on her blog, 300 survey responses and a re-tweet from Trace Adkins. How did my teen use social media to research and report?
Choose a Topic People are Passionate About
My daughter chose the topic food allergies for her research project. Families and patients tend to be very passionate about food allergy awareness. It helps that my son suffers from a severe peanut and tree nut allergy because the topic hits close to home. Look close to home for a relevant topic such as medical conditions, sports and after-school activities then research social networks and forums for community support.
Set Up a Simple Blog with a Free Blogging Service
Blogger was the blogging platform my daughter chose. I have experience with Blogger and set-up is simple. Other possible free blogging platforms include WordPress and Tumblr.
When setting up the research blog, stick to the basics. Set the front page to static, if possible, so updates don’t replace the project description on the front page. Blogger does not allow a static front page, so backdate updates to one year prior and add a note on your blog explaining why the updates are backdated. Check out my daughter’s Food Allergies and Age blog as an example.
Add a Simple Questionnaire or Survey to the Blog
Survey Monkey is a simple website to format free surveys and questionnaires. You can only collect 100 responses per free survey, so format several identical surveys and be ready to change out your survey is responses reach 100. Also, add an email address where visitors can send responses if the survey does not function properly.
Search for Facebook Pages and Twitter Accounts Related to the Research Topic
My daughter hit the ground running with social media research. She collected URLs or website address for forums, organizations, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts dedicated to her topic of food allergies. Teens can use various forms of social media to research and report for school projects; all it takes is a bit of research time and a little knowledge of social media practices.
Share the Link to the Blog on Social Media Networks
After collecting a long list of places to share the link to her blog, my daughter started sharing on social networks. She was particularly lucky when she found out Trace Adkins, a country music superstar, was the celebrity spokesperson for the Food Allergy amp; Anaphylaxis Network. When she shared for blog link on Trace Adkins’ Twitter page, he quickly shared the link and congratulated my daughter on her project.
It is important to be diligent and paced when sharing social media links. The first 48 hours was the most popular time for my daughter’s blog. Since then, the hits and surveys keep coming, but the pace is much slower. She continues to add social connections to her ever growing list and shares her link at least 10 times a day.
Update Progress Often
The most common request from people visiting my daughter’s blog was for her to keep everyone updated on her progress. She updates her blog several times a day with links to food allergy support groups, information on survey responses and her thoughts on the project as a whole. She’s received several emails of congratulations and tons of support from the community.
The next time your teen comes home with a science fair project or research topic, don’t just hit Wikipedia or turn in another erupting volcano. Use social media, blogs and online surveys to collect information for the research topic. There are tens of millions of people out there sharing information on social media networks, which means your teen has the opportunity to touch tens of millions of lives.
To conclude, the aforementioned points are just a few on how to use social media for obtaining general knowledge and many youngsters today have chosen this platform for a career in the future as they have seen the advantages it can have, given its stupendous outreach in present times. It is no longer a place to simply beg for real instagram likes for a cheap price but one that has a far greater potential than what it portrays for entertainment purposes.