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MAKING DIGITALISATION WORK FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

9th January 2023

What would you miss without access to the digital world? We as young people use digital technologies all day long in essential elements of our lives.

A day without the smartphone, without using social networks, without the learning platforms of school or university is almost unthinkable.

With the #AlwaysON for Youth project, the YMCA Europe has already worked on how youth organisations can foster digital youth work and deal with the questions of digital inclusion and safety.

To bring those results into practice, the Youth Policy Group of the YMCA Europe was involved in drafting the position paper “Making Digitalisation Work for Young People” of the European Youth Forum. The main idea is to use this qualified perspective of young people on digital technologies to influence current and future decision-making processes around those issues in the European Union.

That is why the position paper does not focus on one specific area, but rather covers a diverse portfolio including online youth engagement, privacy and safety, the collection and use of data, ethical AI, strong digital societies, and sustainability in digitalisation. Even though most of these areas are not classical fields of youth work, it is important to bring the youth perspective into those issues because young people will be affected the most by current legislation around these topics.

One example is The Artificial Intelligence Act, a law of the European Union, which is currently in the drafting process. It is supposed to regulate the use of AI by assessing the risk of certain AI applications and introducing guidelines accordingly. The typical use cases are not only face and speech recognition or scoring systems, but for example the use in social networks to detect misinformation.

How can young people therefore be part of those legislative processes?

On the 15th of December an expert meeting on AI and young people facilitated by the Council of Europe took place. Because of the work on the position paper, the European Youth Forum invited the YMCA Europe to also join the meeting. At this meeting, two study drafts were presented.

  • The first one focused on the involvement of young people and youth organisations in legislative processes around AI and
  • the second highlighted the different risks AI poses for young people especially and how this technology might influence the future.

Afterwards, steps were discussed, how to advance in these topic areas together with youth organisations.

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Lauren Mason, Advocacy Offficer for digitalisation at the European Youth Forum and Johannes Röder, YMCA Germany, our representative at the Council of Europe session.


A world without digital technologies is almost unthinkable by now, especially for young people. So, if we cannot and do not want to abstain from using them, we will have to work on shaping them for the purpose of future generations.

The current work of the European Youth Forum and the YMCA Europe is a good start for doing this.

Author/Source: Hannah Sauer Youth, Advocacy & Project Assistant YMCA Europe

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