MOORE OUTDOORS: How social media can get kids hooked to outdoors
Published 10:03 pm Saturday, September 23, 2017
Many involved with children and youth outreach slam social media as a negative force.
The fact is, social media is here to stay. I have been toying with very positive ways to use it to connect kids with wildlife.
Instagram, Twitter and other mediums have become the primary way many youngsters socialize and by directly engaging them, we can help inspire and also continually fan the flames of interest in all things wild.
Photos and concise video segments are at the heart of social media communication and nothing translates better to these mediums than wildlife and the great outdoors.
One of the tactics I employ is “bait and switch”.
For example on Instagram, we will post a photo of something exotic like a cobra and typically get many kids “liking” and commenting on it. I mean who doesn’t think cobras are interesting?
Then we will post a similar species from their backyard, like an eastern hognose (they flatten their heads like a cobra) and tag the kids who responded to the cobra pic.
We titled this “East Texas Cobra” and put information on how it flattens its head like a cobra and has all kinds of strange behaviors.
Kids love things that they can actually go see in the wild and all of a sudden they start to consider the area they live in as a wild and wonderful place to perhaps explore.
Another example would be posting a photo of a leopard followed by a bobcat tagged with info on how they can live in the most densely populated cities. A way for kids to connect with their home environment is key.
The next step is a call to action to actually go outdoors.
Some options include a photo contest (Instagram is perfect for this) where they can post photos of the animals they find in their city or even the bugs in their backyard. You can also promote outreach events such as animal demonstrations or field expeditions.
We have to take the message directly to the kids and their families and social media is an important way to connect.
Pop stars, sports celebrities and everyone with influence on the planet is using this format of communication to reach the kids of the world, so why shouldn’t we?
After all, we are wanting to ensure the next generation is full of good stewards of our amazing natural resources and social media will be vital. No question about that.
The most crucial element of keeping kids involved in the outdoors is mentorship.
Take-a-kid fishing days, field trips and other events are wonderful but the fact is, unless family is involved or there is a mentoring type relationship involved most kids will never take up an outdoors lifestyle.
This is where social media comes into play.
If you are involved with children or youth in say a church, scouting or other group and are connected via social media, use it (with parental consent) to “mentor” them.
It’s not as difficult as you think.
Send them messages periodically about your trips in the great outdoors. Share cool videos and photos about their favorite animals and use your social media to salute them when they do participate in an outdoors event.
At the end of the day mentorship involves time investment and by simply sharing your social media time, you can keep kids inspired between field trips and outreach events.
For those kids you are able to build lasting mentoring relationships, it is key to make them part of the outreach.
Kids love to feel as if they are a part of something and truthfully they have much to offer. Kids hearts are much purer than ours so when you get them involved you get all of them involved and with no hidden agendas like adults often bring.
Kids are worth an investment of time and energy. And you can help steer them toward a path of wildlife stewardship and education.
That is something both this generation of kids and wildlife need desperately.
To contact Chester Moore, email him at email@example.com. You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI online and at klvi.iheart.com.