Digital society, young people and decision makers: Wyred consultations

One of the partners of WYRED consortium, Youth for Exchange and Understanding, is consulting 180 young people taking part in University on Youth and Development on issues related to digital society.

What are their biggest concerns? What values should we have online? Do they feel that their voices are heard by decision makers and what are they demanding as young people from stakeholders for a better digital society?

Consultations are part of the revision process of WYRED Manifesto.

 

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Young womens’ scientific text and reflections on impacts of new technologies

Bianca Neumann, Lisa Birett and Alina Bindu from Hertha Firnberg-Schools in Vienna tell us how New Technologies can impact our lives.

Our world is currently filled with modern technology due to the noteworthy progress scientists have made in recent years. Artificial intelligence and robotics have become significantly advanced and are commonly found in the modern working fields. The adoption of service automation is able to facilitate production, transportation, medicine, education, tourism, and many other areas. The question is whether or not the world of employment will benefit from this embrace of machinery and what challenges human employees might face if robots were to actively participate in various business departments.

This also accounts for  Virtual Reality which is one of the modern technologies that are nowadays used to alter our perception of the world that is surrounding us. Wikipedia defines VR as “a computer-generated scenario that stimulates a realistic experience”.

But what exactly does this mean? Headsets are usually used to either create a completely new environment or just change the outlay of the real world. Even props or physical environments can be used to generate realistic images and sounds that will completely pull the user into an alternative universe. To make the experience as authentic as possible the user is able to look and move around and even interact with virtual features or items.

Virtual reality can come in handy in many different fields and is believed to facilitate many tasks we have to face. In social sciences for example, VR is being used to study and replicate interactions of human beings in a controlled environment. Also, surgery training can nowadays be done through VR technologies. The benefits of an altered or artificial environment can be taken advantage of for educational or training purposes where individuals can develop skills without the pressure of failure and the fear of consequences which are constantly present in the real world.

But virtual reality is also used for entertainment purposes, in public or privately. This includes gaming, 3D cinema or roller coasters that are offering an extraordinary experience by using modern technologies.

Even though VR has many advantages there are various concerns especially regarding the health and safety of the users as well as the protection of their privacy. Some side effects of VR have already been noticed but most long-term effects on vision and neurological development are still unknown.

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“I want my students’ voices to be heard and their thoughts to be listened to”

Banu Yurtseven, with her way of teaching and thinking, is to be taken as a good reference point.

Let’s keep our ears close to the ground for her story!

 

My name is Banu Yurtseven. I am an English teacher at Çamlıca Theological High School for Girls. I have been teaching English as a second language since 2001. I have worked in some of the EU projects as a local expert. I am interested in social science, too.

Çamlıca Theological High School for Girls is a religious school for secondary and high school students; in Turkey, religious schools have a vocational programme. The school also offers English preparation classes, which means that 9th grade students take 20 additional 1-hour lessons in English. The goal of our school is to make our students responsible for their learning and to motivate them to reflect on how they learn best, to make them look at their own language and culture from a universal point of view by expanding their vision and knowledge of the world, to develop their critical thinking and to enable them to see problems from various points of view.

In addition, they learn about their own religion from a wide range of perspectives.

As a teacher, I want my students’ voices to be heard and their thoughts to be listened to. Since teaching on its own is not enough, we have to nurture their emotions and motivate them to become equipped with the necessary skills required today. They should gain a positive overview of different people and cultures.

To work with girls is very advantageous as they are calm, easy going, hard-working, ambitious, gregarious and considerate. They are mostly able to remain neutral before forming their opinions. They are able to find creative, ingenious solutions to problems. They are good at developing projects and use their creativity to tackle problems.

Nevertheless, teaching in a Theological High School can present the occasional difficulty. Sometimes it is difficult to engage students with political or universal subjects, because of their cultural and religious bias and preconceptions. They need to develop trust in you and talk in a rather cautious manner, as they combine typically adolescent behaviours with conservative lives. Unfortunately, their parents do not let them talk a lot. They are especially very sensitive about Islamophobia and do not want to discuss it. As girls, they want to express themselves but they are confronted with obstacles and dilemmas. This is why at every opportunity I encourage them to voice their opinions, sometimes discuss newspaper columns at break times, ask their thoughts about daily news etc., in order to encourage them to talk so that they can develop more self-confidence. With the help of EU projects, I try to encourage them and teach them to excel at public speaking, project management and ICT skills. On the other hand, I try to engage them with different activities and platforms, in order to start conversations with other young people. The EU project platforms motivate them to have their voices heard, which also strengthens their confidence.

Our lessons include debates and MUN classes (Model of United Nations), which provides them with an opportunity and the confidence to express themselves, as well as hope to be able to become brave, self-confident mothers. In my opinion, young people should learn to express themselves at an early age, for them to be able to make use of those skills during the rest of their lives.

As educators we must support them in the process, teaching is only a small part of our job.

 

Banu Yurtseven

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The positives and the negatives of the cyberspace

Despite their young age, the Northern Ireland WYRED group of children is very clear-headed about the online world.

They were asked to share their thoughts on the positives and the negatives of the cyberspace and that is what came out.

They do like how easy it is to interact with their friends and families through, for example, FaceTime, Skype and WhatsApp. No matter how far you are, these new means of communication make you able to stay in touch with the people you love.

“You can shop online”, a child says and “it is a great way to pass the time”.

The entire group agrees on it. The online world is very entertaining: you can listen to the music, watch video on YouTube and play online games with your friends.

The cyberspace also satisfies your curiosities: “I like being able to research on google”, “I like that I can see different places around the world and what they are like”, “It gives you an idea of other stuff that is going on around the world”.

Anyway, the children are not deceived by the bright side of the online world. On the contrary, they are aware of the risks hiding behind the computer screen.

They don’t like that personal information concerning them can be easily seen from people they don’t know. They feel their data are exposed to several dangers: “People can find your digital footprint and work out what websites you have visited”, “bad people can put a virus on your device”, “I don’t like that you can get hacked“.

These children don’t feel safe due to the the lack of privacy: “I don’t like that other people can be rude and see where you live”. They fear they can be tricked and, of course, the risk of Cyberbullying is just around the corner.

They can also run into some harmless trouble, such as lagging, a wifi that doesn’t work, or annoying and inappropriate ads coming on during a video.

 

 

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The Wyred Project and the voice of young people: Noemi

What does the audience actually know about critical situations described by the media?
Noemi, a student from Rome Tre University, brings to our attention the research that she carried out through the Wyred Project and its surprising results.

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The Wyred Project and the voice of young people: Maria Chiara

Does it exist a social media awareness amongst digital natives?
Do they actually know where their data are going to be used and how? Maria Chiara, a student from Roma Tre University, urges the institutions and schools to provide a proper social media education.

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The Wyred Project and the voice of young people: Elisabetta

Thanks to the Wyred project, Elisabetta from Rome Tre University had the chance to carry out a research on youth people and employment. The data show that many young people do not find a job easily.

Is it time to advocate for a change in the labour market?

Click here to watch the video on the Wyred YouTube channel!

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The Wyred Conference: a discussion on “Young People and Digital Society”

The Wyred Conference took place in Rome with the aim to present the results of the researches carried out through the project.
The guests invited to the Wyred conference express their points of view on the findings. Members of the academic world, journalists and representatives of the institutions were invited to the discussion on the topic “young people and digital society“.
To find out more on the Wyred conference and discussion, click here and watch the video on the Wyred YouTube channel!

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A Poem on Digital Implants

Jasmin, Anastasia and Patrik from Hertha-Firnberg-Schools in Austria decided to call attention to Digital Implants in an unusual way: they wrote a poem!

The objective of the poem is the sensitization of society for the dangers digital implants may have in the future.

For animals, especially for dogs, it is common practice to implant RFID
(Radion Frequency Identification) chips, in order to easily identify them when getting lost.

Humans use implants (in the size of rice grains) for an “easy” way to open car, house or office-doors, for e-banking, to access the mobile or to provide medical data in case of emergency. These chips are not too expensive and can even be implemented in a piercing-studio. But do we really want a future like that? Is surveillance the consequence of this form of convenience? These are the questions the YP rise in their focussed poem, which invites to reflection on this issue.

 

Roses are red,

implants are small,

we don’t know whether they’re

good at all.

What does the future hold,

Are we just being controlled?

Is surveillance the only goal?

Are we selling our soul?

Only the future will tell,

Well.

©  canstock photo

 

 

 

 

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Raising the voice of young people in Turkey

The 17-year-old girl Irem Abdurrazzakoglu opens our eyes to the urgent need for young people in Turkey to raise their voices and defend their ideas and opinions. The WYRED Project helps them to express their thoughts freely.

My  name  is İrem  Abdurrazzakoğlu. I am a student from Çamlıca Theological High School for  Girls  in Turkey.  I  am 17  years  old  and  I believe  that,  as a  young  person, I need  to express my thoughts.

The WYRED project is an umbrella  platform  for me,  on  which we  can work on creative projects,  express our ideas and take on responsibilities. We will be thrown into the ‘adult world’ sooner or later, so before this  happens  we should  improve  ourselves. I attended  the WYRED social dialogues and joined the community as a teenager to produce new ideas with other students. Today, young people are not given much space to  have a  say.  However, we  want  to change that.  With  projects  such  as  WYRED, which enables  us  to make  ourvoices  heard, we  are taking trainings for a society in which everyone freely shares ideas, respects ideas and is equal.

After the general elections in Turkey, I thought I  should revise  my  topic and  decide  to write about democracy. As  we  all know,  we  live in a  world  where democracy prevails. Every day, many regulations are made in order to make people’s life easier. Although the layout we live in looks nice  from  the outside,  does  it actually give us the  opportunity to express  our   thoughts freely? With the recent elections in our country, young people started to get more attention from the state. We started to follow the demonstrations organised  by the  party  leaders. With  these regulations, we are  told,  young people  will have  more rights  and  advantages. When will we  start  to express  ourselves  better as young people? It is obvious  that  each person  will  have their own  ideas. We all  want to tell  people about these ideas in the best possible way. As  a matter of fact, we are fighting a lot about our ideas. We all strive to defeat each other in the direction of our political ideals and ideologies. Sometimes we break each other’s hearts to justify our ideas. Sometimes adults try to impose their ideas on us and do not allow us to have our own thoughts. It is not well received for a right-wing father to have a left-wing  child. In such situations, we  simply keep our ideas to ourselves and remain silent. Sometimes we are not allowed to talk, they say we are too young to defend our ideas. We often hear that we do not know anything and  that’s why  we  cannot decide.

In  short, we  cannot have any idea, we cannot defend ourselves ideologically and we do not respect  the opinions of others.  But we can change it, we can learn to argue in a respectful way and prove that we have meaningful ideas. In addition to the above, young people cannot explain their own thoughts as much in school. One of  the main reasons for this is that students are not taken seriously by administrators. Students are hesitant to submit their ideas and suggestions in their schools, or they   cannot get  a   feedback. They face a sanction; they are subject to disciplinary threats or cannot receive a response. If  our own  ideas are not respected, our self-esteem as young people is damaged, we are forced to stay in silence and we are exposed to injustice. Some  changes  must be  made  so that  young people  in schools  do not face  such  situations. For   example,  a   school   council  should   be established  and  every  student should  be  able to express  complaints  and suggestions.  In  the elections held in school, every student must be eligible without any age and class restrictions. Students  should not  be  dismissed when  they comment  on a  situation. The administrators should  always  be open to students and  give importance  to their  ideas. Do not  forget  that we are  young  people, representatives  of  the future and our ideas are important.

 

Listen to the young people’s voice, please. We are trying to raise it.

 

Irem Abdurrazzakoglu

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