Get involved Online !
Is social media the answer to increase youth civic engagement? Do the Internet and online platforms transform the forms of youth civic participation? What was their role in the uprisings of the Arab world?
The new CELAT study "S’Engager en ligne !” (only available in French – “Get involved Online”[DE1] ), carried out as part of the NET-MED Youth Project (2014-2018), implemented by UNESCO and funded by the European Union, attempts to answer these questions. This research was conducted by young researchers from the Centre interuniversitaire d'Etude sur les Arts, les Lettres et les Sociétés (CELAT) at Laval University in Canada. It examines the use of digital technologies among young people in the southern Mediterranean region and the various forms of online civic engagement and participation.
This work is based on a comprehensive literature review analyzing, among others, the use of communication and information technologies (ICTs), the participation of young people in the region the online public debate, the opportunities offered by the use of digital media in different countries, as well as the challenges related to freedom of expression.
The cross analysis of fifteen of the most popular platforms in the region enabled to draw up an inventory of the themes and issues addressed by young people in different types of online platforms, to distinguish different categories of digital spaces used by youth, and to document their opinions and expectations with regard to digital media.
Finally, the study provides operational recommendations for re-thinking how to support young people's civic engagement in the online sphere. Thus, it could renew the way in which different agencies of the United Nations support the development of youth-led digital platforms.
“S’engager en Ligne!” nurtured the consolidation of several pilot youth platforms by highlighting the importance of articulating offline and online interactions, developing more media and information literacy (MIL) projects for youth, and taking into account the diversity of young people in the southern Mediterranean countries, as well as their concerns, in order to improve their political and economic inclusion.
The flagship Networks of the Mediterranean Youth (NET-MED Youth) Project, implemented by UNESCO and funded by the European Union, has significantly contributed to promoting youth civic engagement in the Mediterranean region. It has provided concrete opportunities for youth engagement in public policy planning and decision-making processes, media reform and content production, as well as skills forecasting for the transition period of youth to the labour market.
The study is also part of the implementation of UNESCO's Operational Strategy OnYouth (2014-2021), which recognizes the potential and added value of new communication and information technologies in achieving its three main lines of action: (i) policy formulation and revision with the participation of youth (ii) capacity-building for the transition to adulthood, (iii) civic engagement, democratic participation and social innovation.
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Activities building skills among youth organizations and young journalists; to enhance youth representation in media and promote freedom of expression, media and information literacy and youth-generated media content.
Activities joining youth organizations, employment experts and different national stakeholders to engage in dialogue and work together on unemployment solutions and skills needs.
Activities empowering youth to participate in the communal and national development, revision and implementation of national youth strategies and public policies.