We invited Alfie to the Scout’s annual Winter Camp to try his hand at some exciting Scout activities, and to share a few helpful digital pointers...
There’s no two ways about it – digital is a massive part of young people’s lives. They use digital and social media to be entertained, connect with friends, and get help, advice, or support. But we know the amount of time kids spend with technology can be a concern.
That’s why we’re on a mission to help young people understand and navigate the digital world safely but with skill and confidence. With that in mind, we asked YouTube star Alfie Deyes to bring our new partnership with the Scouts to life – after all, he’s someone who knows the benefits of digital technology more than most.
We recently took Alfie to the Scout’s annual Winter Camp at Gilwell Park, Essex to try his hand at some exciting Scout activities, and to share a few helpful pointers on navigating the digital world. He sat down for a chat with us afterwards to give us his take on the importance of developing digital skills, as well as a few tips on how to stand out as a vlogger…
“Today has been really cool!” says Alfie when we ask him about his morning with the Scouts. “I wasn’t in the Scouts as a kid, but I think having general survival skills is awesome.
“I think digital skills are just as important nowadays, but it’s hard to ever say that you’ve ‘mastered’ something,” Alfie admits. “I’m still learning every day. There are so many things that I see other people do, and I think ‘gosh, I wish I could do that!’”
So what does Alfie think the most important thing to know and understand when it comes to digital survival is in 2016?
“Well, the new Scouts’ Digital Manifesto, lays it all out pretty well”, says Alfie. The Scouts team worked with Vodafone to set out six clear goals to help young people use digital technology in a smart and responsible way:
“I think it’s important to understand social media, both in terms of safety and in how best to use it effectively,” he says. “The Internet is such an open place now, and whilst I think that the positivity massively outweighs the negativity, it’s really important to be aware that there is negativity out there, and know how to handle it. All the social media platforms are improving their safety protocols, but ultimately it’s down to you as the user to protect yourself and your information.”
With six years of vlogging and social media experience under his belt, alongside his phenomenally successful YouTube channel, even Alfie freely admits that social media is even harder to keep on top of:
“It’s really important to be aware that there is negativity out there, and know how to handle it.”
“The thing with social media is that it’s really hard to ever feel like you’ve ever mastered it. Sometimes the content you put loads of time into will get fewer views than something you didn’t focus on too much, and that’s purely because of the mysterious power of social media. But I’ve become a lot more active on a wide variety of social media networks, and as a vlogger that has helped me out massively.
“Sometimes I’ll get a tweet from someone saying, ‘Alfie you haven’t Snapchatted in three days!’ and I’ll think ‘Sorry! I’m vlogging it, I’m Instagramming it, I’m Tweeting it and I’m doing a video for YouTube…’ That’s part of the fun though, you know? Trying to do all of it at the same time.”
So, you can find Alfie on almost any social network, from Facebook and Twitter to Snapchat. But which one is his favourite?
Showing people what I’m doing ‘in the moment’
“I have to admit, I particularly love Instagram,” he says. “I love that it’s completely ‘in the moment’. A lot of video-making involves filming and a couple of days of editing before you put it out there, but apps like Instagram are so instant – people can see what I’m doing in the moment. Being able to take that sort of personal content and push it to millions of people at the click of a button is incredible. Or if there’s a campaign like a charity event – I can push that page to all of my followers instantly.”
Supporting good causes
Speaking of charity, Alfie has plans to use his considerable digital skills (and following) for good this year, by raising money and awareness for lots of good causes. “I have a few big plans on the way that I can’t talk about just yet!” he says. “Up until now I’ve taken on personal challenges, but this year I’ve got some really big goals in mind for charitable work. It’s going to be fun, and my fans have always been very supportive so I think they’ll get on board.”
Knowing when to switch off
One such personal challenge happened this Christmas and New Year, when Alfie and his family attempted to go offline for the whole festive period. “It was very weird,” says Alfie. “I’d be in a pub eating lunch, and I’d instinctively pat my back pocket to get my camera and take a picture or record some video, and then think, ‘I’ve lost my camera! Wait, no, I’m not making videos at the moment…’ There were lots of times when I’d speak to people and they’d completely blank me, because they just assumed I was recording a video for the vlog!
“I really enjoyed taking a break from everything: it’s definitely important to stay grounded in the real world. But also, it really just reinforced that I love what I do. I missed it so much. I missed the constant activity of interacting with so many people and uploading my life.”
“The most important thing is to have fun…”
Have you always harboured dreams of becoming a successful vlogger and YouTuber? Well, Alfie has one major piece of advice for anyone in your position…
“For me, the most important thing is to have fun whilst you’re doing it,” he says. “You have to enjoy doing it otherwise there’s no point doing it at all. Have as much fun as you possibly can and make videos that you enjoy making. Sometimes I’ll work really hard on a video that I’m not enjoying, but the audience aren’t silly: they know if you’re not enjoying it. Have fun making your videos and your audience will be able to see you’re enjoying it, and they’ll receive it better.
“If I had 1,000 subscribers right now, I’d still be doing it…”
“I think some people can start to take it too seriously, and they get wrapped up in the numbers – viewers, page views, subscriptions and that sort of thing. Some people are amazed at my numbers, but I’ve been doing this for six years now and I’ve loved every minute of it, right from the very beginning.
“If I had 1,000 subscribers right now, I’d still be doing it because I enjoy making the videos and the interaction. Building an audience is a slow process, it takes time – the key to all of it is to enjoy everything you’re doing.”
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