20231107 BIPDYW Stopmotioncopy 33354 EB7 D902 4209 9 BBC 233 AC4735023 2

Intensive international programme on Digital Youth Work '23

To stay relevant in today's digital age, youth workers must develop new digital skills. The day-to-day reality for children and young people is increasingly hybrid, with technology playing a central role in their lives. Recognizing this, the Howest Department of Social Work in collaboration with Medialab Quindo and with support from the Erasmus+ program, organized a Blended Intensive program on Digital Youth Work. This program brought together students from Vilnius, Paris, Helsinki, Santarém, Bruges, and Kortrijk to explore the intersection of digitalization and youth work.


(Not so) digital youth work? 

The field of youth work, both nationally and internationally, is diverse and constantly evolving. As technology continues to advance, it is crucial for youth workers to embrace digitalisation and incorporate int into their day-to-day work. Young people are active digital content creators, communicating online and consuming vast amounts of information from various sources. 

Digital Youth Work is not a completely new concept; rather, it involves the implementation of digital tools, content, and activities within existing youth work practices. This can range from online youth platforms to the creation of short films and podcasts. Digital Youth Work is already present in various forms, such as WhatsApp groups for information exchange or organised TikTok choreographies. The potential for the youth work sector to enhance and innovate its practices through digital means is vast, without compromising the core values and objectives of the field.

20231109 BIP Digital Youth Work Group Pic Broos

Not a given

However, there are challenges that need to be addressed. Both youth workers and young people often lack confidence and competence in utilizing digital technology effectively. Additionally, organisations may lack the necessary resources and strategic vision to fully embrace digital youth work. It is essential for the youth workers and young people of tomorrow to develop extensive digital skills and be knowledgeable about the opportunities and risks associated with new technologies.

To foster international exchange and collaboration, a blended approach was adopted for the program. The students participated in both physical and online activities, engaging in workshops, learning from experts, and working on their own youth work projects in mixed groups.

Policy frameworks and EU-strategy

Suvi Tuominen, from HUMAK University of Applied Sciences in Helsinki, introduced the students to the existing policy-frameworks and strategies. On a European level, but also on the level of youth work organisations, incorporating digital technology into youth work practices is crucial for making youth work services more accessible and relevant. About two-thirds of European countries have implemented measures to facilitate the use of digital resources in youth work. This strategic approach aims to equip youth workers with the necessary digital skills and tools to meet the needs of young people in a digital society, organisations and society with the agility to adres digitalisation and technological evolutions.


Digital Youth Work manifests in all kinds of ways. The students visited the MaM in Bruges and experienced the power of creativity and maker-activities in a short stop motion workshop of 90 minutes, resulting in short video's like the one above ('Empty Head' by Miglè Motiejune, Saana Herva and Anastasija Potapovaitė).

50 students for 120 children

The students immerse themselves in the topic for an entire week, working from a theoretical- and policy-framework towards an actual youth work activity. They actively collaborate in 5 groups to design a digital youth work activity: a game or a scavenger hunt, enhanced with at least one digital tool or centered around a digital challenge like fake news, privacy, or deep fake technology. 

On Friday, they facilitate the activity for 120 local children from Basisschool Drie Hofsteden and Sint-Jozef. 

Participating students came from the Universities of Applied Sciences: VIKO in Vilnius, HUMAK in Helsinki, Howest in Kortrijk and Bruges, IUT de Paris - Rives de Seine - Université Paris Cité in Paris and Politécnico de Santarém - School of Education in Santarém. 

Banner-GIF 'Youth + Work' by Vaidotas Valantiejus, Toma Palivanaitė and Ema Balašauskaitė. 

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