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Youth and Media

It is no longer possible to imagine our society without the so-called new media and information and communications technology (ICT). Especially for young people, computer games, e-mails, chats and SMS text messages have become a fixed part of daily life. These media and technologies offer unimagined, fascinating opportunities, which many of us would no longer be without. Mastery of the related skills is of the greatest importance as a key qualification for the labour market and for development in society. Furthermore there are the dangers of misuse and dependency. In addition, the media are often made responsible for a variety of problems and unfavourable developments, above all for any sort of violent behaviour on the part of young people.

In all these discussion, it is important not to lose sight of two aspects:

Media consumption always has – not only for young people – an aspect of fun and entertainment. The need for “action”, for relaxation, recreation and a change from everyday life is one of the main motivations behind media consumption. Media are fun and should be allowed to remain so.

However much media increasingly shape society, media are always a mirror for the reality of society in all its facets. When we speak about media, we are therefore always speaking about society, and all the criticism and expectations which we direct towards the media are also pointed at ourselves and our society.

It is beyond doubt that the development of media and the media society require fundamental knowledge and skills in dealing with them. “Media competence” however, is more than merely “being able to use a computer”. Media competence is principally a communicative skill, and as such it is a bundle made up of basic, structural, orientation and application knowledge, and in addition to that always has to contain a social and ethical element.

In this sense, the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy promotes measures and initiatives to convey this media competence, so that young people are able to learn how to deal with media consciously and critically.