No one is born a Democrat or Democrat, children and young people need to learn democratic skills. Even the supposed “digital natives” are not automatically equipped with the skills and knowledge about the secure use of the Internet, just because they were born in the age of digitization. This must be learned, only then can one seize the opportunities of digitization and experience the participation and participation in social, democratic developments. Meike Otternberg from the German Institute for Trust and Security on the Internet (DIVSI) presented in her keynote “Euphoria was yesterday – is trust in the Internet still possible?”, The results of the current study on the use and recruitment of 14- to 24- Year olds to the Internet. This shows Although young people under the age of 25 today are online every day and the digital world is an integral part of their daily lives, the uncertainties and negative attitudes to using the Internet are increasing. Although users see the Internet as a major simplification of everyday life and can hardly imagine a reality in life, they also see the future through digitalization. Here, however, they also reach the limits of their confidence and competencies. The feeling of simplification is related to the concern of always relying on the Internet for everything, without knowing how to behave safely and competently. That digital participation means social participation is not a promise for this generation, but has long been a reality – and not just in the positive. The constant pressure to be present online, to be able to react in real-time and not be able to escape the digital world leads to a “diffuse analog addiction”, says Otternberg. The view of the so-called “digital natives” and the imparting of necessary skills has to be redirected.
Digital competence is not a wiping competence
Security and trust are the control elements for a competent approach to and in the digital world. The creation of an Instagram story and the benefits of different apps is no problem for the study participants – but the majority also do not feel that this is competence. The study participants stated that they do not feel up to the challenges of the digital future and wish for better preparation. In addition to the topic of data security, many of the adolescents and young adults dealt with questions about fake news, fake profiles, and other fraudulent content. They feel insecure because they do not know how to tell true and false information. Fearing public insults and verbal abuse, even 38% of those questioned no longer express their opinion on the internet. So they become passive observers, instead of designers of discourse and their own environment. “We must not care if young people in a hugely important medium shy away from expressing their opinions,” appeals Meike Otternberg.
How can young people be empowered to help shape a digitized and democratic society?
This question was the focus of the subsequent discussion. Hosted by NDR journalist Julia Niharika Sen, Helmut Holter (Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports of the State of Thuringia), Petra Caspers-Naujoks (headmistress of the Hartenrod center school in Hesse), Meike Otternberg (German Institute for Trust and Security on the Internet) and dr. Heike Kahl (German Children and Youth Foundation) on requirements of democracy building and digitization. “Schools must be places of learning and living for democracy. We have to help them to create the conditions. The strengthening of digital equipment and competence is one of them, “said Holter, chairman of the Standing Conference. At present 69% of 14-24-year-olds in the school do not feel sufficiently prepared for the digital future. For the most part, learning still takes place offline, and digital education is equated in the perception of young people, especially with computer science lessons and PowerPoint knowledge. A problem to be tackled with the KMK Decision “Education for the Digital World”. “Politics need pressure”, Holter comments on the digital pact that had been stopped earlier that day.
Headmistress Petra Caspers-Naujoks hopes for speedy implementation and thus financial support for her school. The center school Hartenrod already participates as one of 40 schools in the program education.digital, which supports schools to develop their own concepts of digital education and to anchor. Together with OPINION, the elementary, secondary and junior high school with support level is also implementing a democracy promotion project. The provision of digital skills also plays an important role in the establishment and development of a children’s and youth parliament with the city, otherwise, a methodologically modern formation of democracy is not possible. “Young people use digital approaches to answer their questions of life,” says Caspers-Naujoks.
This also applies to the students of the Ida honor school Hamburg, who had arrived that evening. They participate in the Technocratic program, which already helps more than 19,000 girls develop ideas, develop digital skills, and use their own apps to solve social and environmental challenges in their lives. The Hamburg schoolgirls developed an app with which one can easily offer and find ride sharing opportunities for cultural events such as a Justin Bieber concert. What did you take from this project? The enjoyment of this work and the experience that they understand the technical know-how behind it gives the students a good feeling and a little more security for the digital future.
Children and adolescents have to experience what and how they can shape themselves. And this is not by appeals, but only by useful and timely methods and the room for action, it was agreed on this evening. “Young people have to develop a machismo mentality again,” says Otternberg. “We must enable them to be designers of their future again, not driven people.”
Accepting challenges, enduring co-determination
How can democracy building and digitization be successfully combined in practice and what steps need to be taken? The participants saw potential in the development of the school culture. Schools need to develop into a democratic (er) place where children and young people are more involved. “No fake participation” demanded. Heike Kahl. It does not help children and adolescents to feel they can decide, but they must really decide – “more than the color of the toilet doors”. A higher level of participation also poses new challenges for schools and their staff, as well as a shared willingness to break new ground and become more open to digitization. “After all, we do not have to prepare the children for our past, but for their future,” says Caspers-Naujoks. Mutual learning and cooperation with extracurricular partners can provide good support and build up a pool of multi-professional knowledge in these areas. Ultimately, however, the “digital immigrants” can convey something important that at least the participants of the DIVSI study wanted: the ability to switch off digitally.