The use of digital tools to encourage political participation of young people
One of the hot topics of politics, which has become even more important after the covid-19 pandemic, is the use of digital tools to encourage participation in democratic life among voters and especially among young voters. Even before the pandemic, the digital tool seemed as an opportunity to renew electoral mechanisms, allowing more direct participation (and therefore democracy) to a large number of people. During the pandemic, on the other hand, it seemed to be the best inclusion tool, which allowed intervention and involvement even from one’s own home. The inclusion of the suburbs and places where the political-educational offer is most deficient would have been the direct consequence.
The theme, addressed by some of our partners in other projects, presents some fundamental questions and many perplexities. To clarify: what is meant by “digital tools”? And what about “political participation”? Finally, to deepen: do digital tools incentivize or improve political participation? What about young people specifically?
Without attempting to answer, let us leave some provocative reflections. The first question clearly highlights the confusion on the subject and the intrinsic difficulty in these tools in being perceived as clearly differentiated from each other. As regards instead encouraging or improving political participation (and consequently the very meaning of participation), the reflections that took place in a personal and collective way, in dedicated focus groups with all the stakeholders present, led to the conclusion that web platforms – among which mainly social squares (social media and blogs) – need:
- A solid education and training in their use and in critical and democratic thinking in general;
- Adequate tools for everyone (there is no inclusion without accessibility to the means);
- To be used only as secondary facilitators, ie not with the aim of broadening or encouraging participation but with that of improving it where it is already present.
The YoaC project makes extensive use of social forums (as in the case of this blog and site and our social media accounts) to spread awareness of the project and its activities but, as regards the incentive for political participation of young people, it bets on experiences of meaning lived in common to guarantee passionate involvement in the political and social life of one’s own country, of Europe and of the world.
Anna Schena, Association Sulle Orme