In episode three of the podcast, we analysed a very relevant study published by the EU-Council of Europe youth partnership, entitled Social Inclusion, Digitalisation and Young people. Our guests were the curator of the study and one of the research team members: Lana Pasic and Veronica Stefan respectively.
We started by reviewing the great number of studies, articles and amount of research, much of it directly involving our guests, which laid the foundation of this study.
All the data and the analysis were already pointing at the fact that young people, and adults too, were generally not prepared for a huge digital shift, like the one we faced in the Covid pandemic.
Young people were largely connected and spending time online, but mostly on social media platforms and for entertainment; educational use of digital tools was lower, and even lower again (only 13%) was the use of digital environments as a way of participation.
Previous articles and studies had already collated interesting experiences of using digital tools, mostly from Nordic and Baltic countries, but also from the Balkans, and data about a not-so-high level of digital skills among at least 50% of youngsters, about their difficulties in getting and keeping remote and online jobs, and about platforms being used or even designed specifically for educational purposes.
Other aspects which the study monitored were the safety and security of digital environments, and a possible geography of digital inclusion, showing that:
The areas affected by inclusion problems during the covid-forced digitalisation were in fact areas where problems relating to inclusion, the digital divide, participation, equal opportunities etc. already existed.
The study also focused on analysing Policies on digitalisation and the social inclusion of young people at European level, i.e. either at EU level itself or within a broader European context encompassing Council of Europe member Countries.
One of the most evident findings was the fact that even if policies tackling young people and digitalisation were generally to be found at national level, most of the time, they only focused on digital skills, with some interesting experiences of STEM education, etc., and prioritisation was essentially not given to the area of digital inclusion.
However, digital youth work, on the other hand, seen as a possible way of tackling this issue, is referenced in wider policies at European level, in both those of the EU and the Council of Europe.