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Study on youth, political participation, civic tech and digitalisation

The Study offers an in-depth analysis of the digital political participation of young people in Switzerland

The Foundation for Technology Assessment TA-SWISS launched its interdisciplinary project on digital democracy in November of 2019. As one of three project groups commissioned by TA-SWISS to conduct a study, the Dachverband Schweizer Jugendparlament DSJ – Switzerland’s umbrella organisation to promote youth political participation – analysed digital participation behaviours of adolescents and young adults based on their use of the DSJ platform engage.ch. 

The study sheds light on the following three questions: 

1. Who participates online? (Demographics: age, gender, level of education, migration background, urban/rural, language region) 

2. What features do adolescents and young adults expect and want from a digital participatory platform? 

3. How can online platforms be made more accessible in order to reach as many users as possible? 

In addition to insightful findings, the study also proposes a series of recommendations for developing and operating digital participatory platforms for young people. 

  • Digital participation should always include off-line features, for instance, the possibility to participate in a conventional format, advertisement via regular mail or on posters, and workshops to introduce users to a digital platform. 
  •  Collaboration with schools is recommended to promote digital participation in young people, as this would reach a high number of young people and would ensure that both technical features and content are supported. 
  • Digital participatory platforms should be easy to navigate. 
  • Digital participatory platforms should use simple language and provide information in various forms (short introductory texts, long articles with background information).  
  • An app for digital participatory platforms should be developed. 
  • Whenever possible, users should decide whether they want to use their names on digital participatory platforms. If there is a risk of spam or abusive language, the platform should be moderated. Etc.

While the Study is available only in German, a summary of the findings and the recommendations is available in English, French and Italian.

Authors

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TA-SWISS

TA-SWISS, the Foundation for Technology Assessment, examines the potential impacts of new technologies and assesses both the opportunities and the risks associated with an innovation. In doing so, TA-SWISS promotes public debate and facilitates democratic decision-making – because technological advances should serve people, not the other way around.

Dachverband Schweizer Jugendparlament DSJ

Nora Räss

Ira Differding

Jasmin Odermatt