Digital youth work developments are taking steps forward
The 2nd edition of the seminar ‘Developing digital youth work’ marked a new milestone in this area of youth work. Few months before, in February, the European expert group on digitalisation of youth work released their recommendations on developing digital youth work in Europe. Their recommendations provide excellent foundations for further reflection, exchange and developments of digital youth work, which we addressed during the seminar.
In their recommendations, the expert group provides a working definition of digital youth work that includes the following:
- Digital youth work means proactively using or addressing digital media and
- technology in youth work.
- Digital youth work is not a youth work method – digital youth work can be included in any youth work setting (open youth work, youth information and counseling, youth clubs, detached youth work etc.).
- Digital youth work has the same goals as youth work in general, and using digital media and technology in youth work should always support these goals.
- Digital youth work can happen in face-to-face situations as well as in online environments – or in a mixture of these two. Digital media and technology can be used either as a tool, an activity or a content in youth work.
- Digital youth work is underpinned by the same ethics, values and principles as youth work.
- Youth workers in this context refer to both paid and volunteer youth workers.
One of the first sessions of the seminar invited participants to get familiar with the recommendations of the expert group and share their understanding of digital youth work. Youth leaders and youth workers looked at diverse practices of digital youth work and concluded their reflections in following three domains:
Digital youth work as a tool:
- Using digital tools in youth work requires creating a safe space
- Digital tools enable connecting people globally, which is the most crucial goal of youth work
- Digital tools help to achieve responsiveness and engagement of young people
Digital youth work as an activity:
- Youth work encourages young people to make, instead of consume and this is achieved by digital creativity activities
- Digital youth work activities require multi-disciplinary approaches and enable young people to get familiar with various disciplines
- Digital activities are able to bring people together
Digital youth work as a content:
- Due to the digital divide, diverse backgrounds or diverse abilities, there is growing need for finding solutions to include everyone
- There is a simple but important rule for digital content creation: it should be clean, clear and creative
- Various digital applications serve as a source of content. Therefore it is essential to consider their impact on that content
During this entry session participants learned about what people do in their countries and that the short time for each round of exchange was effective.
On a more general level, participants expressed that there is a need to take a step back to understand what youth work is before defining digital youth work. Then taking a step forward towards understanding digital youth work, there were also (?) some difficulties in understanding differences between digital tools, activities and content.
Written by seminar facilitators Nerijus Kriauciunas and Juha Kiviniemi
This the 1st post in a series of blog post based on an article that is an outcome of the international seminar ‘Developing digital youth work’. The seminar was hosted between the 12th and 16th of March 2018 in Budapest, Hungary by Tempus Public Foundation – Erasmus+ National Agency in Hungary with the support by Finnish National Agency for Education.
Continue to the 2nd blog post ‘Social media for good and for better’ from this series.