ITC4D - 30 June 2024

YouthLinks Community: Empowering young people on a global scale

As the world celebrates Social Media Day, SOS Children's Villages celebrates the YouthLinks Community -  a digital platform designed to provide young people on their journey to self-reliance with access to online learning, networking, mentoring, and participation opportunities.

On average, people aged 16 to 64 spend approximately 6 hours and 35 minutes online daily, with over two hours dedicated to browsing social media platforms, according to Datareportal (2024). For teenagers and young adults, this time spent on social media doubles (Gallup, 2023), driven by motivations such as staying connected with friends and family, filling leisure time, discovering content, and keeping up with trends (GWI, 2024).

Carol B. is an active member of the YouthLinks Community. Without social media, the Ugandan would lack a lot in her daily life: "I would miss out on essential information, news, and events around the world. Social media makes us feel connected as one global community", she says.

Carol's reflections highlight how social media bridge distances, enabling people to stay informed and engaged globally. Her "favourite aspects are connecting with friends and family across the globe, staying up to date on what's happening around the world, learning from different experts and role models, acquiring new ideas and knowledge, and watching funny videos."

Understanding the profound impact of social media on young people, SOS Children's Villages developed the YouthLinks Community. This digital platform is designed to provide young people with access to online learning, networking, mentoring, and various opportunities that support their journey to self-reliance. Currently, YouthLinks hosts 4.300 users from 98 countries, with 70 % of them being young people, another 30 % volunteers and role models from the YouthCan! corporate partners. Given the importance of safety, access to the platform requires prior approval, along with induction and awareness processes to ensure its proper use.

The YouthLinks Community is not just another social media platform; it is a secure space with pre-selected learning and participation opportunities, designed to cut through the overwhelming sea of information available online. For SOS Children’s Villages, it is a potent tool that breaks geographical barriers, offering young people around the world access to cross-border learning opportunities and allowing SOS Children's Villages to easily digitalize its programmes".


Carol B. on the YouthLinks Community

So, what are the biggest benefits and impact of the YouthLinks Community? "It offers career development and job opportunities, mentorship and guidance, networking, confidence-building, and support for mental health," says Carol. It's "a platform where young people share their ideas, perspectives, and raise their voices; connecting young people with opportunities and support to achieve their goals; and facilitating the acquisition of knowledge and skills among the youth."

Learning opportunities in the YouthLinks Community

The YouthLinks Community is a treasure trove of learning opportunities. It empowers young people to develop essential skills such as leadership, communication, advocacy, critical thinking, goal setting, career development, mental well-being strategies, and community engagement. This comprehensive skill set equips them to navigate the complexities of the modern world, fostering a generation of informed, skilled, and empowered individuals.

A commitment to continuous growth

The YouthLinks Community remains committed to enhancing its offerings. The platform continually evolves, prioritizing the views, needs, and aspirations of young people. This commitment ensures that the YouthLinks Community remains a responsive and relevant space, genuinely empowering youth to reach their full potential within a supportive and dynamic digital environment.

Join the movement

As we reflect on the role of social media in shaping young lives, the YouthLinks Community stands out as a beacon of support and opportunity. It is a place where young people can grow, learn, and connect with peers and mentors globally. Whether you are a young person seeking opportunities, a mentor ready to share your expertise, or a supporter of youth empowerment, there is a place for you in the YouthLinks Community.

Let's celebrate World Social Media Day by embracing the power of digital platforms like YouthLinks, which strive to make the world a smaller, more connected, and supportive place for young people everywhere. Join us in empowering the next generation to dream big, learn continuously, and achieve greatness. Together, we can create a brighter future for all.

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