Does technology affect our life skills

Young people and digitization - Interview with Kathrin Prassel at the Transfer Agency NRW

In a conversation with the Transfer Agency NRW, Kathrin Prassel, advisor for educational policy at the State Youth Association NRW, answers questions on the subject of “young people and digitization”. In the interview, one thing in particular became clear: there is no clear separation between analog and digital worlds in the lives of young people.

Transfer agency NRW: Which technical developments influence the coexistence of young people in the city / in rural areas?
Kathrin Prassel: The following applies to almost all children and young people: there is no longer a clear separation between analog and digital living environments. What is communicated on social media is just as important a part of everyday life and identity as meeting friends and hobbies. There is no clear demarcation here. The living spaces of the internet, school or youth association are interwoven. However, a permanent link between analog and digital communication is more natural for young people in the city than for young people in rural areas. The latter first want a better digital infrastructure in their environment before dealing with “luxury problems” such as permanent accessibility and datafication of everyday life. With nationwide access to high-speed internet, rural areas are particularly disadvantaged, which leads to a digital divide. Other factors such as social origin and educational background play a role in the unequal access of young people to information and communication technologies.

Transfer Agency NRW: What demands does digitization make on educational offers for young people?
Kathrin Prassel: Extracurricular educational offers from youth associations and other youth welfare organizations basically have all the prerequisites to meet new technical requirements. They tie in with the worlds of children and young people and raise them to the standard of your offers. If young people can (co) shape their educational offers themselves, youth work professionals are automatically confronted with technology and digital communication. Some educators and volunteers themselves have great fun with new technologies, others feel overwhelmed by their fast pace and complexity. Good training is needed here to take away fears of contact and to check one's inner attitude. It's not about becoming a social media expert, but about understanding the logic and background of new developments. Young people are often referred to as digital natives, which gives the impression that they do not need any support or guidance in their media behavior. But media literacy also aims to question technology. In terms of comprehensive life and personality development, specialists, teachers and parents should be able to provide critical support to young people. The political goal must be: Education for “digital life skills”.

Transfer agency NRW:How can new media support the participation and participation of young people? (gladly examples from municipal educational landscapes)
Kathrin Prassel: The internet is a real living space for young people. YouTube, WhatsApp and Instagram are central channels for receiving, disseminating and positioning yourself. Influencers are important people for young people when it comes to conveying content. But classic online media are still a main source of information about current events. New media have made it easier for young people to express their opinion and organize themselves politically. The Fridays For Future movement is currently the most prominent example of a new form of self-organization with the help of new media. Young people are highly active consumers of various formats and this should be taken into account when planning participation processes, for example in the municipality. Online participation enables different aspects of the involvement of young people than traditional procedures that require personal presence. It's not about either or, but about both and. The platform (, for example, provides suggestions for breaking new ground.

Transfer agency NRW:What do young people want from their city / municipality in terms of digital change processes?
Kathrin Prassel: Information suitable for young people and access to municipal leisure and advisory services could be initiated by a stronger online presence of the municipality. For young people, the focus must be on relevant questions such as which cultural offers are available locally or which advice options are available in the transition from school to work. However, issues of educational child and youth protection such as help with addiction or bullying are often not sufficiently well known and should be better communicated.
Overall, municipalities should use digital tools to create more transparency in municipal administrative action and thereby enable young people to participate better. Streaming of public meetings or administrative processes online without going to the authorities is a common practice in Estonia, but a rarity in Germany. This requires a new attitude and openness with regard to the opportunities and advantages of digitization.


The interview is available here in PDF format from the Transfer Agency NRW