Young people want to speak their minds and be listened to. They want to have a say and a say in decision-making. The Internet offers young people various opportunities to get involved and get engaged.
The vast majority of young people are interested in political issues, such as environmental protection, rights on the Internet or the fight against racism. But political issues are also those that don’t seem so at first glance: Anyone interested in fashion can campaign for those who make the clothes to be treated and paid fairly.
Unfortunately, the opinions of young people are far too rarely heard. They are eligible to vote in elections only in some states from the age of 16 and have little say in other areas. This contributes to the fact that many young people are not motivated to become politically involved. They think that their voice can’t make much difference. At the same time, most young people would like to see more participation. The Internet offers them various options for this.
Participation – or involvement – on the Net is a very broad term. It can mean discussing in conversations, such as with friends on WhatsApp chat, or liking or sharing a picture with a political statement on Instagram. Another way to participate online is to actively post political content, such as a short statement on a currently discussed topic on TikTok.
The prerequisite for this is that young people are interested in something. Often interests are already there, but not all young people are aware of this. There is a lack of opportunities to exchange ideas on certain topics or knowledge about participation opportunities.
Participation begins with informing oneself and thereby forming one’s own opinion on a topic. This can happen at school, but also in the family among friends or on YouTube. The Internet is the most important place for most young people to engage with their issues. It offers many opportunities for this, but also risks, because extremist groups also use the Internet for their speeches. In some cases, fraudulent offers even state supposed concerns such as animal welfare in order to lure young people. There are also conspiracy myths and fake news circulating that young people encounter in their search for information. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to how and where you get information. Various Internet resources can help spark interest in participation and serve as a good resource for forming an opinion. A concrete offer for young people is, for example, the young magazine Fluter from the Federal Agency for Civic Education.
You can also network online with others interested in politics. Social networks are used to organize and plan events, such as meetings, demonstrations or other actions. Fridays for Future or Save the Internet are examples of how committed young people use the Internet for their movement.
Participation in the digital space mostly takes place in social networks. There are many groups on Facebook that advocate for specific causes. A simple search for corresponding groups helps here. On Facebook, there are also groups of the youth organizations of political parties or of non-profit associations.
Participation is also possible via apps and platforms such as PlaceM. This app can be used to create so-called “Places” where participation is to be strengthened. This can be the district, the community, the class or the sports club. Participation is realized here primarily through surveys. Participation will be rewarded with points. Another platform for youth participation is OPIN, which aims to promote youth participation in Europe. Platforms like adhocracy also encourage digital participation. In addition, young people can participate in ePetitions or create their own. This works with WeAct from campact or with openPetition.
Take your child’s interests seriously, even if they may seem foreign to you. Be supportive if your child is interested in a particular topic. Show him ways to get informed. At the same time, it is important to point out dangers that your child may encounter while searching for information. You can find more information about this in our articles All fake? Recognize false reports and extremism on the net
If your child wants to get involved in something, talk to him or her about possibilities and do some research together, e.g. on (youth) initiatives and organizations. The corresponding pages can usually be found quickly via search engines. It is important to let your child understand that they can make a difference and that it is important to voice their own opinion.