Who better to provide information on what content and topics relating to digital life are important to children and young people than the people affected themselves? The very people affected, of course! And so in mid-October 2021, Smart City Darmstadt’s core team of Mobile City Laboratory technicians set off on their electric cargo bikes for HEAG-Häuschen, a meeting place for children and young people in Darmstadt-Arheiligen (www.heag-haus.). On this day, a media education afternoon was held by the Haus der digitale Medienbildung (HddM, https://hddm-darmstadt.de/) with Peter Holnick, an active Mobile City Laboratory team member.
For several decades now, the doors and gates of the former HEAG administration building have been open every afternoon from Monday to Friday for youth center visitors from the age of ten. You will find a diverse program for employment and qualification as well as of course enough space to chill out or play and “hang out” together. Excursions or “special interest” activities also take place, such as acquiring a PC driver’s license. This is precisely why the youth center presents itself as a promising networking point for the Stadtlabor.
“An important target group of the mobile urban laboratory are children and young people,” Simone Schlosser explained to the youth center visitors on that October day, and Anne Weisel unceremoniously demonstrated the E-Lastenbike along with its teaching materials. “We would like to know in more detail which digital topics are particularly interesting for you, and perhaps also what you don’t understand or are critical of when you think about everyday life with digital technology. Which devices and which applications and apps do you use? How important are streaming services or applications (apps) such as Pinterest, WhatsApp and the like for your interaction and could you still do without a smartphone or laptop?” The children and young people as well as three employees of the HEAG-Häuschen discussed intensively with the Stadtlabor team and together they considered which Stadtlabor offers could be co-designed by the HEAG-Häuschen kids. Of particular interest was the topic “Darmstadt in 3D” or the idea of rebuilding the entire city or certain places in the computer game Minecraft and getting creative with it. The ideas and suggestions that were collected are to be incorporated into the program of the mobile city lab specifically for children and young people and are expected to be implemented from 2022: Darmstadt’s youth will then also be visited by the city lab technicians outside of youth centers with the E-Lastenbike in order to discuss the “digital favorite topics” of the young people. ‘digital natives’at their doorstep.
A big thank you to all participants of this afternoon and especially of course to the children and young people as well as the staff of the HEAG house! Without the kind cooperation of the HddM and the opportunity to present the City Lab at their Media Day, this informative and important afternoon would not have been possible. We look forward to continuing to work with you/all of you!