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Teenagers call the shots for political portal

Govt wants to be 'accessible and relevant' to youngsters

The government's online portal looks set to be shaped by the opinions and ideas of high school children, the Office of the e-Envoy announced today.

A research project conducted by the e-Envoy questioned teenage children at Newport Free Grammar School in Essex about how to make government information more accessible and relevant to their age group.

"We decided to go directly to young people and ask them what they wanted on UKonline.gov.uk. They have told us that information on the issues that concern them is often scarce or not presented in a way they can relate to," said Bill Edwards, Director of e-Communications at the Office of e-Envoy.

But even if content is more interesting to young people the government may still have a fight on its hands to get them to log on to the site.

"Children generally only want to log on to sites their friends log on to. Powerful, relevant content will hopefully encourage them to go to the site but this information may be better positioned on kids-only sites," said a spokesman for the NSPCC.

Pupils put forward a variety of ideas including creative campaigns on environment and fire safety, and advice for helping young people deal with peer pressure and bullies. Art, music and quizzes were just some of the other possibilities suggested to liven up the site.

The government is currently developing a strategy to incorporate these ideas into the portal.

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