Our latest working paper presents multimodal research exploring young people’s experience of civic participation and digital technologies. 12 young people aged between 15 and 18 from Estonia, Greece, and the United Kingdom share their experience of digital activism through the technique of ‘digital storytelling’. This approach allows the young people to unpack what inspires and challenges their activism through collating images, drawings, and vocal reflections.
The digital stories cover a number of important societal issues for young people. In Estonia, there was a focus on LGBTQ+ rights and environmental issues. In the UK and Greece, the young people channeled their activism to speak up against structural and institutional racism, gender based violence, and police brutality. In these stories, it was clear that these horrific events have marked the collective memory, even of those who were very young when these instances occurred.
Young people’s inspiration to take a stand centred around there being a moral imperative to make their voice heard against injustice. The idea that you can’t just sit back and watch violence, discrimination, or the climate collapse, you need to “do something”. It was also seen as a core part of being informed about the world and not hiding from the current realities.
Participating in digital activism also brings challenges. Young people highlighted that they did not have the time they wanted to commit to their activism. There were also fears of judgement, confrontation from peers and especially from adults. This is not hard to imagine when other young people who have stood up, such as Greta Thunberg for example, have received degrading backlash from adults in the public eye.
The next step for this research will be to analyse digital citizenship related policy documents across these three countries. The aim is to understand to what extent the national structural political context has far more weight in the becoming of citizens for young people than any policy efforts targeting the digital realm.
Click the link here to read about this multimodal ‘digital storytelling’ approach to youth becoming digital citizens.