Why youth eParticipation?

In general, young people are more active users of online forums and social media than older citizens and more difficult to engage in face-to-face participatory processes, such as workshops and town hall meetings. One response to this is to design face-to-face participation in such a way that is more appealing to the young people. Another is to meet and engage with them online, which is the main reason why the OPIN platform has been developed. However, there are other arguments for choosing eParticipation methods as a substitute for – or a supplement to – face-to-face participatory methods:

  • Independence of space and time. People can participate where and when they want.
  • Lower costs. Direct costs for a physical venue, transport and catering can be avoided.
  • Scaling up. More people can participate without adding much to the costs.
  • Greater transparency. Each step of the participatory process can be tracked and made available.

It is important to be aware of the fact that the arguments listed above are only potential benefits that may not apply to the youth participatory process that you are planning. Your process may not need to be independent of space and time; eParticipation can be costly in other ways than face-to-face participation (e.g. time spent on keeping participants engaged and software license); it is often more difficult than expected to attract large numbers of participants; and over-focusing on transparency may result in participants getting lost in the details. But here the OPIN guidelines are your helpline. They will provide you with tips and tricks for reaping all the benefits that eParticipation projects have to offer.