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Teens Weigh In On Social Media and Conformity

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We might not want to admit it, but deep in our brains is a desperate desire for social acceptance. And social media takes that desire and cranks it up to 11. So much so, that it’s easy to just conform to what’s already popular and get those likes. And that can spill out into real life. Trends have always influenced style and what’s popular, but it seems like social media keeps serving up the same stuff in an endless loop. Whatever happened to being original?

This season of Above the Noise, three Bay Area students co-produced an episode about how social media impacts social conformity and our sense of individual identity.  We collaborated with Zoya S., Asha D., and Jacquelin T.  — all members of KQED’s Youth Advisory Board— to research, write and produce this episode of our video series.

The video publishes on Above the Noise’s YouTube channel on Wednesday, May 3, 2023 — be sure to subscribe to our channel so you will be notified when it goes live!

We asked our co-creators a few questions about their experience.

Jacqueline and Zoya on the set of Above the Noise. (Derek Lartaud)
  • What made you want to work on an episode of Above the Noise?

Zoya: I wanted to work with Above The Noise because I’ve always loved watching ATN in middle and high school, and I wanted to address different topics that affected the younger generations.


Asha: I really wanted to work on an Above the Noise episode since I want to share and educate people on different topics and the science behind them. Being a part of the conformity episode was exciting since I got to share a real-life feeling/experience that many other students could relate to.

Jacqueline: I wanted to work on an episode with Above the Noise since I was always interested in YouTube and filmmaking/creating mini skits. I thought it would be very similar to creating an episode.

KQED Youth Advisory Board members Jacqueline and Zoya direct Myles Bess.
  • What did you find most interesting/surprising/challenging about working on the show?

Jacqueline: What I found interesting while working on the show was having the opportunity to come in person and help direct and experience the process of making an episode. The most challenging was creating a script and trying to combine all of our ideas into one shared vision.

Asha: I think it was how much we had to refine our ideas. It was very challenging to narrow it down to one idea since the whole team came up with multiple great ideas. Even after landing on an idea we had to keep refining our details. The most interesting part was seeing the background of everything and how putting together an episode really works.

Zoya: I was surprised that a more minor topic could create a long discussion. (I initially thought social media and conformity were too narrow, but I was quickly proven wrong.)

Above the Noise host Myles Bess on set with KQED Youth Advisory Board members and co-producers, Jacqueline and Zoya.
  • How and WHY did you choose to cover the topic of social conformity on social media?

Asha: I believe that I fall into a spot of confusion and identity crisis on social media, so I felt like many people could connect with this topic since social media is quite universal. I believe that talking about this topic will encourage other people like me to accept having my own uniqueness but also enjoy the fun aspects and trends of social media.

Zoya: I believe that since social media is something that my generation uses a lot, we are more susceptible to conformity through social media and social media algorithms.

Jacqueline: My teammates and I decided to choose this topic because it was an interest we all really liked and had many ideas to discuss, such as trends.

  • What did you learn from this experience?

Jacqueline: This experience taught me how to collab and connect media with anything.

Asha: I have learned how to think of creative out-of-the-box ideas as well as how to produce media and the process of putting ideas out there for the world.

Zoya: I learned many things during this experience, one being that a seed of an idea can grow into a powerful story if it is researched correctly.

Check out more youth media at KQED.org/youthtakeover

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