Using Online Community Engagement to Empower the Youth

With the rise of technology, online community engagement has become a powerful tool for public participation. And, as technology continues to shape how we interact, empowering the youth to actively participate is becoming very crucial. Why? Well, given their tech-savvy nature, and their role as future leaders in shaping our world, it really emphasizes just how important it is to get them involved.

But how can we foster community engagement among the younger generation? Well, engaging with the youth can prove to be difficult, as they’ve often been met with the feeling of being dismissed, unheard, or misunderstood. This can result from generational gaps in communication styles, a lack of platforms for their voices, and sometimes a dismissive attitude towards their perspectives.

So, building trust and rapport with the youth requires organizations to help bridge these gaps and create inclusive environments by acknowledging their concerns and valuing their perspectives, especially during critical decision-making processes.

Within this article, we’ll delve into the importance and advantages of connecting with youth through online digital platforms. Additionally, we’ll provide guidance on how you can tailor your engagement activities to help aid your organization in improving youth empowerment.

How should we define ‘youth’ in our community?

Since engaging with the youth involves actively communicating with a diverse range of different age groups, tailoring your communication efforts to match their unique interests and needs is essential. For instance, let’s take the example of promoting a local environmental cleanup initiative and explore how to engage both students and young adults in the community.

Students: With students, you might collaborate and organize interactive workshops in local schools that highlight the importance of environmental preservation. You may use relatable examples and visuals to explain how their participation can make a positive impact on their surroundings.

Young adults: You might utilize social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok to share visually appealing content related to the cleanup initiative. Encourage young adults to share their own experiences, using relevant hashtags to amplify the campaign’s reach.

By tailoring these approaches to their specific stage in life, councils can effectively engage and empower the youth in ways that resonate with their aspirations and goals.

Why should we engage with the youth in our community?

Involving the youth in your community is far more than a choice – but a need that’s backed by multiple compelling factors. Here are a few reasons why you should be engaging with the youth in your community.

  • Fresh perspectives and ideas
  • Inclusivity and representation
  • Addressing specific concerns
  • Shaping future leaders

Fresh perspectives and ideas: The youth constantly brings new perspectives and innovative, out-of-the-box ideas. Their unique viewpoints can help drive creative solutions to community challenges and foster a culture of continuous improvement.

Inclusivity and representation: Ensuring a diverse and inclusive community where all voices are heard and valued is essential, as it can lead to better decision-making that reflects the needs and aspirations of everyone. If your demographics are skewed then younger community members are going to feel excluded.

Addressing specific concerns: Youth often face distinct challenges that require specific attention. By engaging them directly, we can address issues such as education, mental health, employment, and social justice that are specific to their age group.

Shaping future leaders: The youth represents the future of our society. So, by actively involving them in community engagement, you can help boost their leadership skills, civic responsibility, and a sense of ownership to help ensure that these future leaders are equipped and well-prepared.

Empowering the youth with online community engagement.

It’s wonderful that you’re eager to foster youth empowerment through community engagement. However, where should you begin? Here are our five tips to get you started.

  1. Educate the youth on community engagement
  2. Actively listen and acknowledge important matters
  3. Accessible and easy to access
  4. Interactive and engaging
  5. Space for anonymous feedback

1. Educate the youth on community engagement

Firstly, there are a few questions you might like to ask yourself that you may need to consider.

For instance, do the youth in your community clearly understand what community engagement is? Are they aware of the benefits of participating and why it’s important? Do they even know about your organization or your community engagement platform?

Answering these questions can help you lay the groundwork for what awareness you need to bring to the table to help improve and foster meaningful engagement.

2. Actively listen and acknowledge important matters

The needs and concerns of young people are often sidelined due to their age, resulting in feelings of exclusion and frustration. Consequently, neglecting their input can cause them to withdraw from community engagement. So, it’s important to actively listen to their concerns to create inclusive environments where they feel heard and encourage their meaningful participation.

Furthermore, placing importance on significant issues such as mental health, which deeply resonates with often-dismissed young people, can help boost active engagement in these meaningful discussions. This can be achieved by ensuring their voices and concerns are not only recognized but also heard.

For instance, Mission Australia conducted a 2022 Youth Survey Report, which revealed 33.9% of young individuals aged between 15 and 19 identified mental health as a major concern in Australia. In addition, nearly 3 out of 10 of these participants felt unsure about how to get help or assistance for their challenges, which highlights an opportunity to enhance awareness about mental health support services that are available.

By addressing the needs and concerns of these individuals and integrating their insights into decision-making processes, you can help foster a more inclusive and empowered environment that recognizes the value of every age group.

The ‘Peel Youth Mental Health – No Wrong Door Program‘ project by the South Metropolitan Health Service serves as a great example. The government managed to obtain feedback through a survey that targeted individuals and their families aged between 12 and 25 to help them choose their program’s name and colors. This initiative not only encouraged youth engagement in decision-making on important matters but also enhanced their awareness of more accessible mental health services.

3. Accessible and easy to access

The digital realm breaks down geographical barriers, allowing youth from diverse backgrounds to participate and contribute regardless of their location.

This can encompass initiatives such as developing user-friendly online platforms tailored to their tech-savvy nature, organizing interactive workshops, and employing social media channels to connect and inspire youth involvement.

Collaboration with schools, universities, colleges, and youth organizations can enhance accessibility by embedding community engagement into curricula or extracurricular activities. By highlighting the importance of active citizenship and offering opportunities for hands-on involvement, we can ensure that youth are engaged and equipped with the skills and perspectives needed to shape their communities future.

Online engagement can accommodate varying schedules, enabling youth to participate at their convenience, making it ideal for students who might be juggling academic commitments.

4. Interactive and engaging

While surveys can be a valuable tool, filling out too many over time can get tedious. The youth want something more exciting and engaging that captures their attention. Given their tech-savvy nature, incorporating visuals like graphics, videos, and interactive tools online can effectively capture their interest and engagement.

By leveraging interactive and visual engagement tools, councils can present information in engaging ways that resonate better with the younger generation. This, in turn, nurtures a stronger sense of community involvement and inclusivity as the youth find themselves seamlessly integrated into conversations that shape their environment.

5. Space for anonymous feedback

To combat controversial issues, you might consider implementing a project that receives anonymous feedback, which would only require respondents to provide their age. This approach would provide insights into private matters, like lifestyle habits (smoking, vaping, and drinking), and positive aspects like road conditions and access to cycling paths.

This method ensures a formal and confidential means of gathering valuable information to inform your endeavors more effectively. And, if your engagement platform includes advanced community-building features, you can consistently increase your engagement rates with your younger community members over time.

The City of Greater Bendigo provided a great demonstration of collecting input regarding vaping and smoking within the wider Greater Bendigo area. Through the implementation of a survey, they engaged with the youth to find out the reasons behind smoking and vaping in Greater Bendigo. This initiative aimed to gain insights into the areas within the community where they would prefer to establish smoke-free environments.

Online community engagement is a powerful avenue to involve youth, including students, young adults, and children, in community matters. By recognizing the importance of their participation it empowers them to contribute meaningfully to the community’s development, ensuring a brighter and more inclusive future for all.

If we harness the potential of online platforms, we can create a safe space where the voices of the youth are acknowledged, heard, and valued.


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Our expert team is available to show you how to get the most out of your online community engagement platform.

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