On Valentine’s Day, you could hardly ignore it: the Netherlands was buzzing with #realcontact. From trending topic on Twitter and a huge cake at the Council of Ministers to various television broadcasts; réal contact in the digital society was a topic of discussion everywhere. On February 14, we celebrate love, the real attention for another. Love is human and therefore may seem self-evident. But is that really the case in a digital world? In which one is isolated by too little (online) connection, the other one screams for real contact and yet another is stressed by too much (digital) contact. To highlight the urgency and importance of real contact, dozens of organizations including Tilburg University have joined forces with the campaign #realcontact (or in Dutch: #echtcontact).

Figures show: real contact is under heavy pressure, with major consequences. The call for more inclusion and a new social standard around digital use is getting louder. With the campaign #realcontact, the Netherlands is being set in motion for more (digital) inclusion and a new social standard for digital use. Tilburg University likes to contribute to an inclusive digital society from a scientific point of view. Digital Society researcher Prof. dr. Margriet Sitskoorn, professor of clinical neuropsychology: “Our scientists like to collaborate with social partners to advance society. By working together, we develop new insights and solutions for the challenges of digital use for individuals and society. We have started to build a research line on the psychological consequences of digitalization in young people, their parents and employees.” Margriet Sitskoorn wrote a column about Valentine, warmth and our brain, especially for the campaign #realcontact.

The campaign #realcontact is an initiative of Alliantie Digitaal Samenleven. The opportunities that the digital society offers are great. At the same time, the number of people who are not digitally skilled or who are struggling to find digital balance is growing. Alliantie Digitaal Samenleven is committed to create a digital society for everyone. The Alliance is an initiative of the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, VodafoneZiggo and Number 5 Foundation. The Alliance is a public-private partnership, which now includes more than 30 parties. More information about the Alliance can be found at digitaalsamenleven.nl.


On Friday 14 February, various activities took place throughout the Netherlands as part of the #realcontact campaign, including a Slowdate living room with well-known Dutch people at Utrecht Central station. A.o. Princess Laurentien, NS president-director Roger van Boxtel, Jamai Loman, Trijntje Oosterhuis, Jan Slagter, Marlijn Weerdenburg and influencers Peter de Harder and Jard Struik talked with travelers. An overview of all activities can be found on echtcontact.nu

Update March 2020: The measures that have been taken due to the coronavirus outbreak have made it more difficult to make réal contact. We look for our role in this new reality, which changes from day to day. How do we stay connected to each other? Right now, the opportunities that digitalization offers are enormous. At the same time, we learn the value of réal contact because we have much more contact with each other in our home situation or because we miss that contact with loved ones and we cannot visit each other right now. On the website of the Alliantie Digitaal Samenleven, initiatives are being shared that have started to ensure that everyone is able to participate in the digital society, especially in these times: https://digitaalsamenleven.nl/2020/03/20/digitaal-samenleven-in-tijden-van-corona/