Case 1: How to befriend youngsters online

Most of the young people who visit one of the Viennese youth centres are active on the Netlog platform. This also applies to the youth centre PAHO, so the youth workers there decided to create a Netlog profile for the centre and share the duty to keep it going.

With the profile created the question of how to contact and befriend the youngsters arose. Just telling them to join would be a rather clumsy way and a bad starting point for project work. Far better and also more motivating would be if the young people would ask to become online friends of the centre themselves. To start the process of befriending a few young people with good real life contacts to the youth centre were invited for a visit and among other things the online presence was shown to them. Additionally, post-it notes with the centre’s Netlog nickname were placed at the centre computers.

This turned out to work really well for within a rather short period of time most of the youngsters known to the youth workers had asked to become online friends. Also youngsters who rarely or even never visit the youth centre wanted to join in. The online profile proved to be a fast way for spreading information; in fact, the young people seem to take up online information far better than, for example, flyers. This also offers the young people a new way to contact the youth workers or bring up sensitive topics.