Teen Digital Takeover: getting young people into museums

Alison Bowyer
Alison Bowyer, Kids in Museums Director, explains how taking part in Teen Digital Takeover can help change how this age group engages with museums.

Today is the Kids in Museums Teen Digital Takeover: when young people take over the social media accounts of museums, galleries and heritage sites across the UK.

The 2018 Audience Agency Museums Audience Report identifies 16-24 year-olds as one of four key museum audiences. However, it also highlights the challenges of attracting and retaining younger visitors.

Teen Digital Takeover can help address these, offering:

  • playful approaches to exploring collections
  • opportunities to change young people’s perceptions of museum visits
  •  ideas to improve communications with this age group

We established Teen Digital Takeover in 2014 following feedback from a young person about wanting to publicly document their Takeover Day experience. It extends the idea of young people as active participants in museums to the digital realm.

This year for the first time, Teen Digital Takeover will see young people aged 13-25 taking over, not just Twitter, but the full range of museum social media accounts.

All about stories

Museum collections are all about stories. Teen Digital Takeover sees young people take the lead in museums’ storytelling, enabling them to engage creatively with collections.

Tweet screenshot
Tweet from the Museum of the Order of St John takeover.

 

The stories they tell can be quirky and fun – we’ve seen emoji and Pokémon hunts. We've also seen discussions of issues such as plastic pollution and political representation, which are important concerns for young people today.

Feeling trusted to be the voice of a museum for a day builds young people’s confidence.

It dispels their perceptions that museums are full of dull, dusty objects and shows that collections have contemporary relevance and are exciting to explore.

“The best thing about today and when we have ‘taken over’ before is knowing that we are being trusted by the museum. ‘Cos I know the museum staff is happy that I will do a good job it gives me confidence to do things which I am nervous or scared about.”

 

Teen Digital Takeover participant

Benefits for heritage organisations

People in costumes
Taking part in Takeover Day at Time & Tide Museum

 

By actively engaging as digital storytellers, young people feel a greater sense of connection with heritage. Afterwards, we know they are more interested in becoming involved in other museum activities including volunteering and attending special events. They are also more interested in becoming regular visitors.

Museum staff also value the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of what young people are inspired by in their collections and interested in seeing on their social media.

This insight about communication can be valuable.

In recent research by Ecclesiastical, over half of those surveyed said a good online presence would make them more likely to visit a museum.

“Staff got a greater understanding of what sort of objects engage and interest young people, and the sort of things that catch their eye. One of the young people in particular was really excited to be asked to take part and it has cemented her wish to be an art curator in the future.”

Feedback from a participating museum

Teen Digital Takeover can also help raise an organisation’s social media profile as part of a national event. Our hashtag #TakeoverDay has previously trended on Twitter in the UK, reaching a huge audience.

Find out more and get involved

Kids in Museums holds an annual Takeover Day and we encourage venues to get involved on this date to make the most of being part of a national event.

However we welcome digital takeovers that happen at any time of year.

We offer a range of free resources about issues such as online safety on our website and staff are on hand to support first-time participants.

To see what happens when young people take over, follow #TakeoverDay and the Kids in Museums Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts. For more information about taking part, visit the Kids in Museums website