Not everyone in Germany can afford digital participation. Young people realize this above all in education and culture. Experts even warn of a split in society.
Poverty among youth is becoming more and more evident in the digital world. Whether it’s tech devices, home internet speed, or paid streaming providers for online classes, the cost of digital participation is high. Not all families and young people in Germany can afford it.
Just a few days ago, the new “Watch youth poverty in Germany 2022” by the Federal Catholic Youth Social Work Working Group warned that the situation is worsening for children and youth from poor families. He says that in many areas such as education and digital participation, young people are lagging behind.
According to the report, nearly a quarter of all young people under the age of 25 in Germany are at risk of poverty. In 2021, that was 4.17 million people. As a household’s income decreases, the number of devices with internet access also decreases.
“Digital poverty divides society”
Silke Starke-Uekermann says the corona pandemic, inflation and energy crisis have made the digital engagement gaps between families in the low-wage sector and relatively wealthy households even more pronounced. Trained social worker, she worked in a managerial capacity at Youth Poverty Watch.
According to the report, which consists of several surveys conducted in Germany, children and youth from low-income households have lower digital skills. According to Starke-Uekermann, this includes consumer information, such as the secure processing of data on the Internet.
Digital skills also include understanding official websites: “Not everyone who can play Candy Crush knows how to apply for unemployment benefits digitally.”
Expert: Mixture of analog and digital meetings
In addition to the necessary equipment for online tutoring at home, children and young people would feel digital poverty especially in their spare time.
Nöhring emphasizes that the living environment of young people today consists of a mixture of analog and digital meetings. The managing director of the family policy worker welfare association (AWO) is therefore calling for increasing the amount of digital participation at the current standard rates for the unemployed.
Demand for essential digital services
Nöhring complains that current standard rates are often not sufficient for the purchase of technical equipment and increased electricity costs. It therefore advocates a fundamental digital resource, a legal right to technical devices, and connection fees, so to speak.
This includes children and teenagers learning at school how to use tech devices, how to use the internet safely, and how to deal with fake news or cyberbullying.
Silke Starke-Uekermann of the Federal Catholic Youth Social Work Working Group also speaks of a “digital subsistence level” that politicians should be concerned with.
This is the only way for children and young people from low-income families to participate equally in education and leisure activities. Social worker says:
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