How can we give more people access to digital technology?
In an increasing number of areas, not having access to the Internet risks being left behind. Job advertisements, for example, are now often only posted online, and social media, information, online communication or organisational tools such as online banking are all continually on the increase. In today's world, people without Internet access are quickly marginalised and disadvantaged.
For Generation25, life without computers or the Internet is no longer even imaginable. People in this generation are constantly "connected", so Leopold, 24, was all the more surprised to read the figures from a study carried out by the German Federal Statistical Office. According to the study, 20% of households in Germany have no computers and no Internet access, and not because they are fundamentally opposed to having this technology or because there aren't currently any cables in place, but because they can't afford it.
Leopold wanted to do something to help bridge this digital divide. He is committed to making sure that people in need also have access to a computer and so are able to take part in the digital world. It was with this aim that he set up "Digital Helpers", a social start-up that fairly distributes rejected computers that might otherwise end up in trash. His project not only helps people, but also saves resources.
The importance of making sure that everyone has access to the digital world is also appreciated by Leopold's contemporaries from Generation25, who also emphasised in the final discussion the importance of digital networking for people of all ages.
Marc, 14, writes: "Being online gives everyone more opportunities and allows everyone to grow closer together."
What would that involve, in concrete terms, here in Germany? Generation25 has a lot of answers to this, and is bursting with ideas: "By explaining how to use the technologies to older people too" (Andreas, 16)
"Free WLAN access is already a good start, but people also need an accessible and affordable energy source for the necessary equipment." (Katharina, 19)
"Shorter cables, more main distributors, and a move from copper cabling to fiber-optic connections." (Tom, 21)
"More free WLAN networks and free terminals, a bit like telephone boxes" (Alexandra, 28)
The comments show yet again just how technology and Internet-savvy Generation25 really is, and how confidently these "digital natives" move within the digital world. For people in this generation, computers, smartphones, and tablets are more than just everyday objects; they also determine their day-to-day lives and make them easier and more rewarding. Access to the digital world makes their lives more colourful.
And this should be the case for everyone. Generation25 wants access to the Internet to be a basic human right, as giving everyone the same rights to information and knowledge will allow us to ensure that everyone has access to the same options. Leopold has even managed to get his own grandmother using a tablet, which she uses to write emails, look at photos or check the weather forecast. The pair are now much better connected, and are in touch on a daily basis.
But it's not just older generations but children too, such as those from socially disadvantaged families, who should be given the chance to see just how big and varied our world really is, and how it is theirs for the taking. Generation25 is confident that people will no longer be excluded from information and potential opportunities in the future. After all, digital access also means limitless possibilities.