What is Digital Youth Work?
Well, it’s not that different to youth work, it just adds a digital element. If you’re reading this and thinking ‘it’s not for me – I don’t have a clue about InstaChat or SnapGram*’… think again!
With three quarters of 12 – 15 year olds on social media (Ofcom 2017), it’s important, now more than ever, that digital considerations are included within existing youth work practice.
We aren’t talking about a fundamental change here. Nor are we suggesting that all youth workers should become digital or technical experts – let’s breathe a collective sigh of relief!
What it does mean is that youth workers need to be aware of the challenges that young people face in an increasingly online world. It’s important that young people are able to critically analyse online information (be able to tell ‘fake news’ from real news), understand the impact of ‘being social’ online (for example cyber bullying and mental health) and use a range of digital services safely to navigate their lives (from public WiFi to a variety of apps).
It’s not all doom and gloom when it comes to navigating the digital world – there are tonnes of exciting opportunities out there for young people to engage with digital. From digital gaming to the learning how to code to online journalism – there are lots of fantastic opportunities. There are some great examples in Scotland too, just take a look at the finalists from the National Youth Work Awards earlier this year, from Maker Spaces to 3D Printing - there’s plenty of inspiration to be had!
So let’s ditch our digital fears and start talking about how we can add a digital element to youth work to ensure it remains relevant. Let’s empower young people to navigate their digital lives safely and securely, but also to have fun, learn and grow in a digital world!
Interested in finding out more?
This September we’re running a Policy Seminar on Digital Youth Work. You will hear from David McNeill, Director of Digital at SCVO, and Suvi Tuominen, manager of Finland’s National Development Centre for Digital Youth Work, on their experiences in the field so far. You will also have the opportunity to chat to colleagues from the sector about your hopes, ideas and fears in regards to Digital Youth Work – and discover it isn’t as scary as you might think! Find out more about the event and book your space on our events pages.
If you’re looking for inspiration, take a look at the Digital Youth Work project YouthLink Scotland has been involved with. The project will officially be launching at the Policy Seminar, but for now you can access the website which provides a range of good practice examples of Digital Youth Work in action, there are currently six case studies with more to be added before the Policy Seminar.
*Instagram and Snapchat are the real social media channels!