Electronic Democracy and Young People

Macintosh, A., Robson, E., Smith, E., Whyte, A. (2003). Electronic Democracy and Young People. Social Science Computer Review, 21, (1), 43-54.



This paper examines action to address young peoples’ apathy to the democratic process and politics in general. It considers the possibilities for extending e-democracy to support wider democratic participation using ICT to engage young people. The paper describes two e-democracy systems in use in Scotland which provide young people with an opportunity both to participate in and to understand democratic decision-making. The systems are designed to allow young people to deliberate issues of importance to them, and provide them with an appreciation of the rationale underlying decisions taken. The Highland Council initiative involves young people in the design of their own website for participation in a Youth Parliament with online debates and Internet voting. The Young Scot initiative is a national youth portal, which includes an ‘e-democracy channel’. Our emphasis here is on content management and moderation of e-consultations for young people. Many researchers have argued that democracy is best taught by practicing it. That premise, and the fact that many young people seem comfortable using new ICTs, is the basis for the work that we reflect on in this paper.
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