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 counselling, 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 either 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.
Youth work takes place in many different forms and settings. The most common ones are: youth centres, youth projects, outreach/detached youth work, informal youth groups, youth camps/colonies, youth information, youth organisations, youth movements. These different forms of youth work can be carried out and/or governed by different entities (municipalities, NGOs, etc.) and take place in different localities (youth centres, schools, churches, etc.). These are the most common forms of youth work; due to different terms used in different countries and/or local conditions, there are other (sub-) forms of youth work that still apply to the working definition above.
Examples of innovative practices in delivering digital youth work and upskilling youth workers’ digital competences:
- Using social media in sharing information;
- Online youth counselling;
- Supporting digital literacy;
- Enabling participation with digital tools;
- Supporting cultural youth work online;
- Supporting the development of technological skills;
- Using digital games in youth work.
Young people in Europe spend an increasing amount of their time consuming digital media and technology (video streaming, messaging, blogging, gaming, etc.). These can provide a place for young people to learn, to share their experiences, to exchange their views, to have fun with their friends and to actively participate in society.
When looking at the planning, development and implementation of digital youth work activities and projects, it is important to not only focus on the skills related to using digital media but look more broadly at the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to ensure an engaging and meaningful digital youth work experience. An agile mindset is crucial for youth workers to perform their work in our dynamic society.
Written by: Catalin Popsor