European elections 2024How we can support young people in forming their political opinions

In a month's time, many young people will be voting in the European elections for the first time. By lowering the voting age in Germany, this is already possible from the age of 16. Young people inform themselves primarily in a media public sphere in which false reports, populist narratives and conspiracy stories are increasingly becoming a threat to democratic processes. Therefore, today more than ever, media literacy is democratic literacy. We put together suitable materials and tips to support young people in forming their political opinions and information literacy.

A lack of skills in dealing with disinformation fuels mistrust of politics, science and journalism. And this ultimately plays into the hands of anti-democratic forces. Children and young people should therefore learn at an early age to evaluate information competently and to form a political opinion based on facts.

In addition to forming personal opinions on everyday issues, forming political opinions is a prerequisite for democratic participation for young people. It contributes to the consolidation of ideological positions and leads to informed and well-considered voting decisions. This includes the assessment of election programs, the evaluation of media statements by politicians and the classification of news and media reports on political issues as well as corresponding expressions of opinion on the Internet.

With our teaching materials, we want to support young people in recognizing disinformation and the consequences of fake news for opinion-forming, evaluating information in order to form an informed opinion.

Training in dealing with disinformation

Young people find out about current news and socio-political issues primarily on social media. At the same time, adolescents do not consider social media to be particularly credible. According to the latest JIM Study 2023, 58% of the young people surveyed had come into contact with fake news in the month prior to the survey. Young people are often unsure whether information on the internet is correct and find themselves in a fake news dilemma. Many adolescents find it difficult to check information and sources, even though they are generally interested in them. They often lack the necessary knowledge, for example where they can check news. In a survey conducted by the Vodafone Foundation, 85% of the young people questioned called for the topic of disinformation to be included in the curriculum.

Young people need information literacy so that they can form an informed opinion. It is therefore important that parents, guardians and educational professionals practicedealing with disinformation with them. Adolescents should learn how to recognize misleading news online, how to check dubious news and what reputable information is available on social media.

New landing page for young people: Your voice for a strong democracy!

On our new landing page for young people you will find a compilation of reputable news services for young people and fact checkers in social media as well as other klicksafe services and support for young people.

Forming opinions in the digital world

In our handbook from the klicksafe series "Ethics makes you click", we provide insights into the information behavior of young people, offer assistance in analyzing and recognizing disinformation strategies and show the effects of misinformation on a democratic society. The focus is on a media ethics roadmap, a compass of skills: This includes methodological competence (How do I inform myself?), factual competence (What knowledge about media and digital public spheres do I have?), social competence (How do I behave in discussions?) and ethical competence (How can I develop an attitude?). The factual information is supplemented by twelve practical projects with worksheets for use in the classroom. With the help of the worksheets, pupils learn to recognize fake news and conspiracy narratives, to evaluate the credibility of (online) sources, to separate facts from opinions and thus to form an informed opinion and to stand up for it fairly and respectfully.

Opinion or fact?

According to a special PISA evaluation, only around half of 15-year-olds in Germany can distinguish opinion from fact.

With our puzzle exercise (Project 2) in the klicksafe handbook "Ethik macht klick. Forming opinions in the digital world", pupils learn what distinguishes an opinion from a fact.

#fitfordemocracy: promoting democracy and media literacy

Attacks on our democracy are increasingly taking place in social networks, messenger groups and internet forums. The teaching material #fitfordemocracy addresses these problems and aims to get young people fit! At various stations - analogous to a real gym - topics and situations that young people encounter online and offline are addressed. Creativity and humor are used to convey the joy of democracy and community.

The #fitfordemocracy teaching material is carried out in the style of classic station work. In training stations from five subject areas, pupils learn how democracy and media skills are connected. From learning about our constitution to designing their own demo poster, the stations offer suggestions for engaging with democracy and online participation. A quiz as a warm-up and a cooperative cool-down exercise frame the project.