Panel discussion

"Growing up 2.0": Training media skills as a shared responsibility

MUNICH/BERLIN. "How is the networked world changing the lives and work prospects of young people?" This and other questions surrounding childhood and adolescence in this thoroughly digital epoch were discussed by representatives from business, the media, the community and politics yesterday evening. The panel discussion was hosted by the charitable association UPJ e.V and telecommunications group Telefónica O2 Germany. Journalist Hadnet Tesfai chaired the discussion between Lutz Stroppe, Children and Youth Section Head at the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, Philippe Gröschel, Youth Protection Officer of VZnet Networks, Christoph Koch, journalist and author of "Ich bin dann mal offline" (I'll be offline then), and Markus Haas, General Manager Corporate & Legal Affairs at Telefónica O2 Germany.
No one can deny that the internet has established itself as an influential medium for young people, with 98 per cent of 12- to 19-year-olds now being online (source: JIM study 2010) and 96 per cent with internet access. All in all, they spend around 13 hours a week online (Source: Shell Youth Study). At the event in O2's offices in Berlin, the debate centred on the challenges facing children and adolescents growing up in a digital epoch. How important is an adept and self-confident understanding of the new media in terms of education, occupation and social inclusion? Who should be responsible for gradually introducing young people to a (self-)aware use of the new media? The unaligned online platform saw representatives from business, the community and politics exchange their views on the subject beforehand. There was a consensus that young people can only safely draw on its potential if they have been properly schooled in the risks and systematically introduced to the new media.
"Social networks, as well as private blogs, give young people the chance to actively communicate instead of merely consuming," said Christoph Koch at the event. "In most cases, young people are more media-savvy than you would think. It only gets problematic when you want to delete all those posts and images for good." Philippe Gröschel also demonstrated the significance of media skills by way of social networks: "Each day brings us into contact with a huge number of members who report 'cybermobbing' and similar cases that we, as mediators, have to respond to. That's why I see social skills as a key addition to media skills. It's the same as acting responsibly in traffic - you have to get the right skills over as early as possible." "There are already many programmes and measures around teaching media skills," says Lutz Stroppe. "It is the shared responsibility of providers, business, companies, school and families to join the threads and point the way ahead to young people and their parents." "Both media and social skills are key to a better life and brighter prospects for children and young people in this networked world," concludes Markus Haas. "As a telecommunications provider, we are aware of this responsibility and feel duty-bound to support young people not only in using their mobile phones and the internet safely and conscientiously, but also their interactions with each other." For further information go to
Telefónica O2 Germany GmbH & Co. OHG belongs to Telefónica Europe and is part of the Spanish telecommunication group Telefónica S.A. The Company offers its German private and business customers postpaid and prepaid mobile telecom products as well as innovative mobile data services based on the GPRS and UMTS technologies. In addition, the integrated communications provider also offers DSL fixed network telephony and high-speed internet. Telefónica Europe has nearly 49 million mobile and fixed network customers in Great Britain, Ireland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Germany. UPJ is a network of engaged businesses and non-profit intermediary organisations in Germany. At its core are projects that contribute to resolving social problems in creating new links between companies, non-profit organisations and public authorities. The non-profit UPJ e.V. also supports these parties, giving information and advice on the development and implementation of their Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Social Responsibility activities.