The Ynternet.org Foundation was invited to travel to Tallinn, in Estonia, to participate as experts in the Symposium “Connecting the dots: Young People, Social Inclusion and Digitalisation” organised by the European Commission and the Council of Europe. The Symposium gathered 120 youth policy makers, researchers, practitioners from youth NGOs and youth work from across the signatory states of the European Cultural Convention, as well as actors (like Young Pirates of Europe; Advisory Council on Youth, Council of Europe; Eurodesk; European Youth Information and Counselling Agency (ERYICA); ALL DIGITAL, among others) from the digital field that work against existing inequalities.
The event focused on exploring the intersection between social inclusion of young people and digitalisation, reflecting especially on how digitalisation affects young people’s lives, and what is the role of youth policy, youth work and youth research in this field. It was articulated around young people’s experiences and how digitalisation has an impact on them, especially in relation to young people’s social inclusion. It thematic focus was on how social inclusion of young people is or can be affected by digitalisation on questions such as:
Access to services, youth-friendly services, services for social inclusion;
Reaching out to young people and the digital divide;
Resilience and empowerment for social inclusion;
Discrimination in the digital space, hate speech, cyber-bullying and harassment.
Secondly, the Symposium also explored some possible ways ahead for the youth sector, looking in particular at:
YOUTH WORK: smart youth work (including digital youth work), competencies needed from practitioners; the role of youth work in developing young people’s media literacy; using digitalisation for youth empowerment;
YOUTH POLICY: the role of youth policy in taking up the theme of digitalisation as part of different programmes aimed at curbing inequality, using new channels to reach out and involve young people (for example, through gaming or apps), acting as a regulator or as a support; and the role of digitalisation in shaping youth policy in all its phases;
YOUTH RESEARCH: the role of youth research, identifying further areas of research and the use of data-driven developments for research.
The event was intended as a mutually beneficial learning and updating opportunity for those involved. Through this Symposium, ideas about the role of the youth sector in relation to digitalisation were explored and different approaches to digitalisation were shared. Key messages for a future agenda for the youth sector in relation to the intersections of digitalisation and social inclusion were elaborated serving as inspiration for further action.
The Symposium also marked the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the EU-CoE youth partnership and the release of the 26th edition of the Coyote Magazine, an e-magazine addressed to trainers, youth workers, researchers, policy makers on the youth field in Europe.