IYMS was founded in 2006 by Evelyn Seubert and James Gleason (Cleveland Charter High School, Los Angeles, California) and Aileen Marshall (Screen School, Glasgow, Scotland) and organized by the Teen International Media Exchange (TIME). TIME was born on September 11, 2001 when the tragedy of the day's terrorist attack motivated a group of Los Angeles media instructors to find a way to interrupt the vicious cycle of violence and revenge that threatened to overtake the lives of the young people they worked with. These film teachers had seen firsthand teenagers’ surprising ability to learn how to cooperate, compromise and understand each other – in spite of ethnic antipathies - when that cooperation was necessary to create a film that they were passionate about. TIME’s first projects in early 2002 were over the internet with students in Scotland, following by in-person collaborations in Korea and Belize. In 2006 TIME founded the International Youth Media Summit, bringing 85 people from 26 countries to work together on media projects that would motivate others in their generation to take action. In the decade since then, TIME has continued both in-person and internet collaborative projects with over 700 American and international students, and the Summit has involved over 500 young people and mentors from 50 countries, reaching over 200,000 people with youth-created media pieces, personal appearances and outreach. The 2007 Summit was held in Sydney, Australia, hosted by Vahid Vahed of Cinewest. Miomir Rajcevic and the Media Education Centre hosted Summits in Belgrade, Serbia in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015. The 2014 Summit was held at Soka University of America in Aliso Viejo, California, hosted and organized by James Gleason, Kate Randolph and Evelyn Seubert. The 2016 Summit was held in Kathmandu, Nepal, hosted and organized by Public Access Nepal.
As of August 2016, delegates to the Summits have hailed from 51 countries: Afghanistan, Albania, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belize, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, China‐Hong Kong, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kosovo, Macedonia, Mexico, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, Palestinian Territories, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, UK-England, UK-Scotland, and The United States of America.