Digital youth participation refers to the use of the internet, social media, mobile technology and other information and communication technologies ( ICTs) to enable young people’s participation in democratic life. It is also sometimes called e-participation or smart participation.
The digital world and digital tools can enable youth participation by providing;
Nearly all forms of youth participation can be recreated in a digital format in some way. For example, youth council meetings or youth conferences can be hosted through video chat, or protests can be organised and held through hashtags and social media posts. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many youth participation projects transferred their activities exclusively to digital formats.
The digital world also gives the potential to create new methods of participation which could not be implemented in the physical world. Without physical barriers and limits, it becomes possible to do things like involving very large numbers of people or hosting interactions with people in multiple places across the world simultaneously.
More commonly though youth participation initiatives are now regularly combining face to face and digital interactions together in a blended approach. Many projects might create a group chat or social media page to enable participants to interact with each other outside of physical meetings, or to publicise the projects.
Digital participation is a new area and there are still many questions about how to do it effectively. Key debates include:
Many of these topics are part of much bigger debates that affect all parts of society and not just young people. They reflect the rapid changes that are happening in society because of digitalisation and the effect this is having on democracy.