PEER, a service for teens to explore their identity

Peer is comprised of three tracks: look, find, and do.

In the look track, teens are connected to mentors through videos and social media. In the find track, teens can dive into a particular field of study to see different roadmaps on how to get there. And finally, in the do track, teens sign up for different youth opportunities, such as free workshops, community service, or internships within their community in order to explore their interests. Peer's mission is to give teens autonomy outside of their home and school life and help them develop a sense of self. 

PEER is a service for teens to explore their identity by connecting them to mentors and youth programs in their community. PEER is a mobile-friendly website that works across any smartphone and computer.

Today's teens have overpacked schedules. Much is asked of them from standardized testing, extracurricular activities and preparing for college. Depending on their socioeconomic standing, they might lack the resources to obtain an all around, fulfilling education. Many youth programs are trying to supplement for these gaps in the system, but there is a disconnect between the initiatives and teens.

Some teens do not have the same kind of support at home as other teens, the latter might even have “helicopter” parents. There is a major tension between giving teens their independence versus adult supervision and involvement. Teens want to feel like they have a say over their lives, but when needed that there is a support system for them, waiting to lend a hand or ear.

Young people are constantly being told what to do, who to be, and just want to be left alone. When they do need advice, they should feel comfortable enough to turn to somebody, whether that is a parent or a “mentor”. The word mentor comes with a heavy definition and we might not recognize that all of us can be a mentor. In today’s YouTube generation, technology has shifted the idea of who a mentor can be. We can see ourselves in others, even if it’s across the globe.

Target audience:

Geared towards older teenagers (14+) who are having to prepare for college and their future, as well as trying to figure out who they are and who they want to be.

Design Process:

Prototype:
A different spin on the high school career assessment test. This app would informally “test” your interests and what teens care about, interspersed with images from different youth programs that are available for to gain experience. Tying together a practical resource (internship, community service hours to graduate, resume-builder and/or school credit) layered with having a safe place to try out different roles or “hats.” Each teen would have an avatar and collect hats as they finish different (physical) youth activities/programs (a good example of the various offerings would be New York Cares Volunteer Youth Program in the 5 boroughs). The images the teen users sees is feed into the system by other teens who have already gone through that particular activity (ie: soup kitchen, sound design, fashion intern, rebuilding The Rockaways).

So the teen user would swipe right (agree) or left (disagree) with the words, statements, and photographs (purposely left ambiguous to let the user interpret—would they see themselves doing that particular task, was it of interest or intrigue?).

Learnings:
The overall takeaway from today’s feedback is that it has to be more playful (different interactions—delightful moments) if you want it feel like a game. The youth who came to the play test seemed like they really had a grasp on what they want to do, but always citied how they thought their peers didn’t know what they wanted to do and are confused as to where to start. They were really confident in knowing exactly what their interests were even if they couldn’t pinpoint a specific moment.

So perhaps teens already have an inkling into what they want to do, so what’s powerful about my app is not the “personality” discovery part, but the activities.