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The Digital Edge - using technology to support young people

A provocation paper written for Nominet Trust by Tim Davies, David Wilcox and Alex Farrow

High unemployment. Social exclusion. Low political engagement. Fragmented communities. It’s not difficult to construct a long list of youth policy challenges. The challenges are not new, and many are shared by all generations, but against a background of economic turmoil, environmental degradation, and increasingly complex local and global communities, these challenges impact profoundly on the future life chances of younger generations, and demand our renewed attention.

Digital technology offers new ways of addressing the challenges faced by young people by enabling new forms of collaboration; facilitating new communities of support and challenge, and affording new ways of accessing information and resources. But to take advantage of this potential, we need to redesign the ways in which we articulate and approach the social challenges we’re looking to address.

This is why we are launching a programme of social investment to address the challenges faced by young people in participating socially and economically with their communities. The Digital Edge programme will provide £2 million of funding for ideas and projects that address the key challenges faced by young people through innovative uses of digital technologies.  This first call is open now until 1st August 2012.

Building on the research in this provocation paper, we are seeking new approaches to using digital technology that re-design ways of supporting young people.

This publication has been developed with this approach in mind. The messages have been developed by bringing together people with a variety of skills and experience in an effort to understand the challenges facing young people in greater detail and to shape key messages around how we best support them. Our thanks go to the authors and for the wealth of online and offline contributions of many other participants, whose blog posts, tweets and shared insights contributed to this process. 

This publication has been collaboratively developed, and we hope to work with you to respond to the challenges and messages it sets out.