What Is on Young People’s Minds?
TINCON is a festival for digital youth culture from, for, and with young people. What are the focus topics 2018? What interests young people and how do they get involved? We discussed these questions with TINCON spokesperson Florian Prokop.
The TINCON target group is young people between 13 and 21. It’s been a deliberate decision to put anyone older than that on the sidelines. What will happen at the convention?
Quite a lot! TINCON brings together young people with great ideas who are committed to a variety of different topics that matter to them. Many of them are very idealistic and motivated. They just enjoy swapping experiences and spending time together – in workshops, at round tables, and in the gaming area.
What are the topics that matter most to young people today?
An important and much-discussed topic is mental health. On social media, people show and talk a lot about the beautiful aspects of life, but who is willing to help me when I feel down? Where and how can I discuss my problems? What can I do for my mental health? Questions like this are high on the agenda of many young people in particular. This is why TINCON also offers talks and sessions on escapism, real life, digital ethics, and feelings of marginalization and discrimination for all kinds of reasons.
Other top priorities include environmental and sustainability issues. The young generation knows pretty well that it will suffer the effects of climate change and the escalating pollution. And they are not indifferent to this situation. So many young people right now are asking themselves: What can I do? How can I make a difference by changing my consumer behavior, for instance by living vegan or not using plastics?
To what extent do politics and political education play a role for young people, also at TINCON?
I would say, as a rule, teenagers are interested in politics. But they may be bored by the day-to-day political goings-on at times. Or they feel politicians don’t take them seriously, because hardly any of them listen to young people and take up their cause and issues. So many young people come to the conclusion that they have to take matters into their own hands, and they show great enthusiasm when they do.
For example, there’s Thilo Buchholz, a student advocating his idea of a European community service at TINCON. The way he sees it, every European citizen, whether male or female, should spend a few months after graduating from high school in another European country and do something meaningful for society. He is convinced that this would lead to a true sense of community and thus to a united Europe.
Where and how do young people gather information about the topics that matter to them?
A lot on the internet of course. Many form or search specifically for communities that focus on their topics of interest, where they can pool information and exchange their knowledge and experiences. Certain influencers may have a greater audience or impact, but an active exchange is very important to young people – also in the offline world, in classrooms or among friends.
What do young people in our society consider the major challenges right now?
I would say the challenges have not changed that much over the years. Many teenagers are very concerned with questions along the lines of “Who am I? Where do I stand? Who do I want to be?” The current young generation is growing up in a stable and safe environment. They take democracy and freedom for granted. I think it’s a task and a challenge for all of us to convey the importance of democracy and freedom and to show that these accomplishments are actually a huge privilege for a society.
What are the strengths of the young generation?
When a cause really matters to young people, they are fully committed to it. They become active and strong, for themselves or others. Conventions such as TINCON are perfect ways to spark young people’s interest in socially relevant topics, as these events provide a safe space for discussion, information, and inspiration. Those who are interested in what’s on young people’s minds – and I hope that would be as many adults as possible – should listen carefully. On Sunday, the convention also admits people over 21, and there will be a lot of information to browse on our website and generally on the internet.