Why is technology so important to teenagers

Totally digital? How young people acquire skills in dealing with new technologies

The following important findings and starting points for practice are named:

1. Young people often use computers and the Internet outside of school, often to communicate with others or to play - but rarely for educational purposes.

Starting points for practice:

  • Taking up interest: Schools should take up this interest and integrate into the lessons the previous knowledge that young people have already acquired in dealing with digital media.
  • Increase the attractiveness of digital content: In the classroom, the offers should build on these existing experiences and, for example, network or work with playful elements. In this way, digital learning content could become more attractive for students - even outside of school.
  • Create suitable materials: In order for digital learning to be successful outside of the classroom, young people outside of school should have better access to suitable materials. Cloud-based solutions or education servers from which the relevant content can be accessed via the Internet would be conceivable.

2. Neither school nor friends play a major role in imparting skills - the young people primarily help themselves.

Starting points for practice:

The use of digital technologies and, in particular, the targeted and productive use of them are viewed as a cultural technique that must be taught in school. This is the only way for young people from less educated and socio-economically less privileged homes to acquire the necessary skills.

  • Start in elementary school: Dealing with new technologies and digital information should be part of the lessons at an early stage, at the latest in elementary school. Only then would all students be able to acquire the relevant skills right from the start in the context of a critical and accompanied discussion. In order for this discussion to be successful, the teachers would also have to be appropriately trained technically and didactically.
  • Controlling the acquisition of skills: It should not be trusted that all young people teach themselves how to use new technologies. This would only lead to an average level of performance and an extremely unequal distribution of opportunities. That is why schools have to convey digital skills much more comprehensively and better than before.
  • Train teachers: The use of new technologies should be given greater consideration in the education and training of teachers.

3. Young people who use the computer in their free time tend to be more competent in dealing with it.

Starting points for practice:

Not all young people generally have access to modern technologies in their free time. Problems exist here especially among young people from less privileged parental homes or families with a migration background.

  • Take all young people with you: These unequal conditions result in a special obligation for schools: Only if they enable disadvantaged young people to have digital education can equality of opportunity be achieved in this regard.
  • Broadening the top performance: The school can also give valuable new ideas to pupils who already use the computer extensively in their free time through the targeted use of computers for educational purposes. In this way, the proportion of young people at the highest level of competence could be increased.
  • Anchoring digital education in the curriculum: Computer-related skills are an interdisciplinary key skill. For this reason, they should be integrated into curricula and framework plans and the use of digital media outside of school should also be taken into account in order to sensibly incorporate the young people's existing interests and skills.

The study's findings indicate that young people acquire many of their digital media skills outside of school. One conclusion is that this is associated with the risk of increasing inequality of opportunity. The German school system can only be efficient and sustainable if it supports integration through education. In view of the digitization of all areas of life and work, the institutionalized mediation of media skills is a task of great social relevance.

Therefore, a coordinated and binding approach to imparting digital skills and the productive integration of digital media in the classroom should have high priority for the various actors in the education system: This includes increased cooperation as well as cross-learning concepts and an upgrading of extracurricular learning.