One of the components of democracy is strong civil engagement. This term denotes everything people do to improve their society and solve common problems. Participating in voting and volunteering initiatives, rule-making, or anything else is civic engagement. When people get involved this way, it helps improve the community, promotes community development, and builds a sense of ownership among citizens.
Recently, technology has opened a new dimension of this concept. Do you know what is digital civic participation? It’s the participation of people in social life using digital platforms. These tools have already proven their usefulness for people. They can choose and join various initiatives from anywhere.
Technology today plays a huge role in helping people participate in communities. It’s like a bridge between people, governments, and people, making it easier to share ideas and collaborate. Technology is incorporated into every sphere of human life, and civic matters aren’t an exception. You’ve probably heard what is digital civic participation, right?
Through digital civic participation, technology has opened up more ways for people to connect with their communities and share their thoughts.
Let’s discover several of the most common ways modern technologies boost engagement in society:
- Social media. People use Instagram, Facebook, and other social media to express their opinions on vital topics and issues. Politicians and public institutions use these platforms to communicate with society, share information, and receive feedback. As of 2019, 72% of Americans used at least one social media site, highlighting the potential reach of digital civic engagement initiatives.
- Mobile apps. Mobile applications can boost online civic engagement in their communities. Apps such as “SeeClickFix” enable citizens to report non-emergency neighborhood issues, which can be forwarded to the local government.
- Open data platforms. It’s okay to use technologies to provide open access to data, enhancing transparency and accountability. For example, the U.S. government’s data.gov enables citizens to understand better and engage with their governments.
- Digital petitions. These offer a powerful way for citizens to voice their concerns and rally support for specific causes. Websites like Change.org and Avaaz have given people the tools to effect change, attracting millions of users worldwide.
Technology makes civic engagement more accessible to a larger population. Digital platforms allow for civic participation regardless of geographical location or physical ability.
Civic Engagement: Why Do We Need It?
Civic engagement, the active participation of individuals in their communities, is a fundamental pillar of a thriving democracy. But why is civic engagement so important? Here are the key reasons:
- It builds a democracy we try to achieve. Members of a democratic society have the right to express their opinion. That is civic engagement.
- It creates a community. People build relationships as they come together to address common issues or work towards shared goals.
- It impacts public policy. Through civic engagement, citizens can influence public policies and decisions directly affecting their lives.
- It benefits personal skills. Engaging in civic activities can help individuals develop valuable teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills.
Regardless of the means of engagement, the goal remains the same: to create a society where every voice counts, and every citizen has the opportunity to make a difference.
The Implications of Using Technology For Civic Engagement
The role of digital activism can’t be overestimated, and governments around the globe should promote it by all means. But not everything is so cloudless here. One big problem is what we call the “digital divide.” This is when some people have access to technology, and others don’t. The amount of information on social media is huge, and not everything there can be trusted. The fake news problem is another issue.
Hearing identical ideas can limit our exposure to different ideas and cause division in our communities. To solve these problems, we need to work on many fronts. Becoming an engaged member of society is easy. Technologies greatly help us, so why are you still staying aside?