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How the Internet influences our democracy?

We read newspapers online, attend official appointments digitally or receive medical advice via video call – just a few of many examples that show how our lives are increasingly taking place digitally. This change is also having an impact on our democracy and coexistence as a society, and it is becoming noticeable in elections, for example: Whereas people used to inform themselves primarily via printed election programs, TV and radio, and made a voting decision on the basis of these, digital aids such as Wahl-O-Mat are now available. It was used more than 21 million times before the Bundestag elections in 2021 alone. democracy internet

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Democracy, however, does not only mean that political offices are decided collectively. It is also a promise of a free and self-determined life, of the right to freedom of expression and also of upholding morality and human dignity. A promise that is enshrined in our constitution.

Our social lives also largely taking place online today: New contacts are no longer merely made, but added in apps. Often even before we have met the person once in the real world. The exchange of opinions no longer takes place only in the inner circle or at the regulars’ table, but in forums, social networks and messenger services – no matter where, no matter when. Likewise, we increasingly form our own opinions in the digital world, for example, through the post or video we discovered in our feed that afternoon. democracy internet

Level of digitization in Germany on the rise democracy internet

The latest study by Initiative D21, conducted for the 9th time in a row, provides information about the extent to which our lives are shifting to the digital world. It shows that the level of digitization in German society continues to rise.

On the one hand, the possibilities offered by the Internet result in an increase in freedom, networking and diversity of information, and can enhance our democratic coexistence. On the other hand, however, the Internet also provides space for phenomena that threaten democracy, such as the spread of hate or fake news as a means of manipulating opinion.

The Digital Index makes clear just how real and tangible these dangers are: a quarter of respondents see digitization as a threat to democracy. Crisis situations seem to exacerbate the situation: In a recently published Bitkom survey in connection with information surrounding the situation in Ukraine, 56 percent of respondents say they come into contact with fake news.

Media and democratic competence strengthen society

What can be done to take advantage of the network and the opportunities for democracy?

The answer is to strengthen media and democratic competence. Only if we are able to understand the digital world and how it works can we live together democratically online. Because – and this is also revealed by the D21 Digital Index – while countless fake news are being spread in the digital space every day, only just over half of Germans have the confidence to recognize dubious news.

To support people, Telekom implements a wide range of measures to promote media and democratic skills: With “#TAKEPART-Stories”, Telekom offers multipliers the opportunity to participate in free workshops on various topics related to the digital world. For parents and educational professionals, company offers various materials and formats for free use with “Teachtoday”. “Scroller” teaches children how to use digital media safely in a playful way.

 

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