4. Involve young people
A key principle for youth workers is to involve young people in the decision making process and there is really no area where this matters more than digital. Young people make choices about the apps and platforms they want to use and if organisations happen to choose something else, they’ll find themselves high and dry.
A great example is Discord, an app that’s popular as a way for online gamers to connect while playing. Now youth work organisations are beginning to use the tool because it’s a good way to connect with young people with a choice of messaging, audio or video. More importantly it’s an app that young people feel comfortable with and also a place where private groups can be set up securely. It takes longer for youth workers to find their way around because it’s not their natural habitat, but who are we doing this for anyway?
Facebook is clearly not where young people are spending time these days at it is the preferred choice of their parents’ generation, so that’s not really too surprising.As well as clear opinions about what and where, young people also have an enormous amount to contribute about how. As a youth worker I could be struggling to get my head around a new game or app, but the young people may well be able to help and that shared experience of learning from each other is actually hugely valuable.
And beyond that kind of decision-making comes helping young people to think about their digital activities and how other engage online. Young people have been promised rights in the offline world. Digital 5 Rights is about young people understanding those rights and how to apply them in the digital world.