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Screenagers International, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), digital and social media use in Youth Work
Start date: Feb 1, 2015, End date: Mar 31, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

This project is a collaborative study on the use of Information and Communication technologies (ICT), digital and social media in youth work. This project complemented work that the partners have been doing at a national and international level on the issue of ICT use in youth work. In 2014 the partners were involved in organising Screenagers international seminar. The seminar highlighted the innovative practices in ICT use in youth work and the learning outcomes for young people. However, the seminar also highlighted the challenges and identified needs for the youth sector. There is a resistance to ICT use in youth work due to fear around child protection issues, lack of competency by youth workers and lack of common policy on the issue of ICT use in youth work. Gaps in regional and national policy for the youth sector and gaps in implementation of European policy were also identified as an overarching challenge. The aim of the collaborative research was to explore the extent, value and development of the use of ICT, social and digital media as a tool in youth work, and to provide an evidence-base for recommendations to promote the development of ICT in youth work at organisational, national and European levels. The project involves five partners The National Youth Council of Ireland, The Youth Council for Northern Ireland, Verke, the National Development Centre for Online Youth Work in Finland, wienXtra from Austria and the Center for Digital Youth Care in Denmark. This project produced the Screenagers international research report,"Using ICT, digital and social media in youth work A review of research findings from Austria, Denmark, Finland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland", a synthesis of the five national reports and a summary infographic report. This report presents an overview of key findings from research conducted by the five partners, and more specifically it aims to identify and demonstrate: • the use of ICT, digital and social media in youth work; • best innovative practice; • outcomes of the use of ICT, digital and social media in youth work; • the challenges and barriers, and supports required; • training available for the youth sector and recommendations for training needs. Central Research Questions 1. What is the extent of the use of i) social media and ii) digital media in youth work? 2. What types of digital media are used in youth work, and for what purposes? 3. What is the value / contribution of the use of social and / or digital media in youth work for young people, and for youth work practice? 4. What are the challenges of the use of social and / or digital media in youth work and how can these challenges be overcome? 5. Is there training available to the youth work sector, and what supports are required to enable youth workers to apply social and digital media as a tool in their youth work? Methodology Variation in Methodological approach Given the different contexts in which the research was undertaken, it was agreed that a standardised research design with identical data collection tools was not feasible. At the research design stage, the research partners agreed that different methodological approaches to answer the 6 common research questions could be employed, but that fieldwork must include: • Desk research to provide an overview of the youth work and ICT context • A survey, to encompass the central research questions • 4 focus groups (2 with youth workers and 2 with young people) • 3 case studies Common findings/ recommendations • strategic financial investment - in infrastructure, hardware, professional development, and practice development • meeting the identified training needs of youth workers at all levels, from introductory basic skills training to professional development and bespoke courses, and with a focus on the practical application of skills • the need to challenge resistant mind-sets, and to support a fuller and more creative use of ICT in youth work • ensuring policy commitment within youth work sectors • written guidance for youth workers, laying out principles of best practice and demonstrating impact, which could be supported through national Centres of Excellence and/or through national champions for ICT in youth work
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4 Partners Participants