The digital space is emerging as a place for connectedness and sharing, and one where youth face issues leading to isolation, marginalization, attacks on democracy and more. Simultaneously, the skills required of youth workers is widening, “as [they] are expected to deal with challenging patterns of behavior or social issues” (Source: European Commission).
The pandemic moved the lives of youths online and studies show that more time online correlates with a rise in negative behavior (Source: European Commission). These issues create a divisive cyberspace where youths feel unsafe and/or silenced. The European Parliament states 1 in 10 EU women have experienced cyberviolence, with youths at a greater risk. EU Kids Online reported a prevalence of cyberbullying ranging between 2 and 14%. Eurostat also states that 70% of EU youths get their news from the internet but lack the media literacy skills to verify it.
Youth workers lack tools to recognize and combat these issues. The National Youth Council of Ireland confirms “there are a lot of youth work practitioners who lack the digital skills or attitudes to fully benefit from the opportunities created by digital technologies for delivering quality youth work,” while the European Commission recognized a need for “digital youth work.”
“Digital Citizenship for a Connected E-Youth” is our answer to the need for proper training and tools to deal with these challenges.
“Connected E-Youth” has three main objectives:
- Teach and provide the tools for youth workers/trainers and youth to learn digital citizenship skills
- Make digital citizenship competences a recognizable part of youth work training.
- Promote the responsible and inclusive online lives of European youths
Our consortium of transnational partners (IT, EL, MT, PL, SE) are youth workers/educators and/or have experience with youths, demonstrate interest in these issues, and a need for training material. The partners cover a wide geographical area and each country is facing online issues, with partners concerned about cyberbullying/violence, hate speech and fake news. The project will allow partners to apply the results within their own organizations and those of their associated partners who also work with the target groups (youth workers / trainers, EU youths).
Our goal is to create material that will equip youth workers with the quality training and tools necessary to fight for inclusion and diversity in all digital spaces. These tools will allow youth workers to meet the EU Youth Strategy 2019-2027 goal to empower young people to face the challenges which lead to their social exclusion and discrimination, and be responsible, critical thinkers in the digital landscape. Furthermore, the project results should contribute to the recognizable value of youth work in both the physical world and digital one. Youth workers with digital citizenship skills will be able to use non-formal methods to help young people create an inclusive online environment that fosters the long term EU goals of equity and equality.