By Siqi Wu
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Nowadays, most media is adult-dominated and contains many stereotypical images of young people. Therefore, I chose to make media that is not only directed towards young people but also produced by our youth. As a member of Gen Z, I must admit that we live in a unique world. We grew up in the media age and had a profound understanding of media and deeply know how to maximize the use of media. However, GenZ is jaded about the current state of the world. Some of them are overzealous in emphasizing their powerful abilities and influence, yet they are not actually the pioneers of grounded initiatives. Therefore, I chose a social work-like approach to design my youth media to maximize the use of Gen Z’s strengths and potential powers.
I designed a bedtime stories reader website called StoryGround, which can read stories to young kids. However, the readers of these bedtime stories are not professional broadcasters, but young college students. To start this website, I asked my friends to choose stories for children according to their preference and I also let them read the stories and record them. Then, they sent me their recorded stories to check and after recording their stories, I solicited their feedback about their stories. After I collected some recordings, I made this website with a free personal web production website – Wix.
The home of StoryGround has two pages, the first one is for children to jump to the story page, and the second page is a Submit Page for other youth who want to provide their stories. There are 7 bedtime stories on the story page selected and read by my friends and me. These stories include fables from various countries and some interesting and meaningful fairy tales. From the perspective of artistic design, I designed StoryGround’s pages to be simple and easy to use because it makes it easier for children to select the stories they want to listen to. And I chose some pictures that fit well with the story’s content. I believe that such cute pictures and simple design style can create a relaxing environment and attract children’s desire to read.
The goal of making StoryGround is twofold. The first one is for the children group. With urbanization, many children now have less space for socialization and entertainment. Therefore, an older brother or sister who are close and may occasionally mispronounce some words can give a lonely child some feeling of companionship, even though they have never met. Furthermore, many previous princess fairy tales have been pointed out by sociologists as having stereotypes. For example, in past Disney princess fairy tales, women and men were created under obsolete concepts, with women being portrayed as incompetent and weak, while men were synonymous with armor and warriors. But these are the topics that Gen Z concern most, and they have a unique perspective on how to properly cultivate the expected qualities of a new generation, such as rejecting gender and racial discrimination. So, in the stories they choose, there are more stories about perseverance, teamwork and integrity. For GenZ, I think this platform has its benefits. During COVID-19, more GenZ young people have time to use social media to express their grievances and protests due to the quarantine policy. They showed unprecedented enthusiasm to participate in social events and showed great creativity. Thus, the GenZ community has plenty of time to pick and read suitable bedtime stories for the kids during this period.
Siqi Wu is an international student from China, currently a senior in Communication and Media Studies at Carleton University. Siqi likes music and likes to play the guzheng, which is a traditional Chinese instrument. He is passionate about intercultural communication and seeks to understand the relationship between media and multicultural communication. And as a member of Gen Z, Siqi wants to study the differences and similarities in communication among youth from different cultures. He will soon receive his bachelor’s degree in communication from Carleton University.