Someone in the #DigCiz community shared out a research piece about the rights of children in the Digital Age, and I spent some time the other day looking through it. You can, too. The two researchers — Sonia Livingstone and Amanda Third — scoured through research on children to parse out what rights young people have, or don’t have, in the digital world.
As we talk about Digital Citizenship and Civics in the Digital Age, I find it important to remember the balance of adults and children, and how too often young people’s unique concerns and issues of agency get left out of the discussions.
Really, the focus should be all about the kids.
Yes, as an adult, I have my own personal concerns about digital platforms (See Doug Belshaw’s post: Friends Don’t Let Friends Use Facebook), and the commercialization of our data, and the privacy decisions made behind closed doors. As adults, we can navigate, react, resist, leave, stay, pause.
Kids have a tougher time, for all sorts of reasons related to developmental growth, social pressures and more. I hope I am not being too authoritative here when I suggest, from my experience as a teacher of 11 and 12 year olds and father of three boys, that young people are:
- less apt to understand the mechanics behind digital sites
- less open to individual inquiry about what is happening to their data
- or are more likely to shrug off the trade-off because they see things “in the moment” and not in the larger picture
- less likely, particular as teenagers, to have an adult they can turn to for help and advice (parents are often the adult of last resort during the teen years)
- more apt to follow the social herd into something new without fully understanding the trade-offs
- more likely to have their unique concerns be ignored by adults when a technology is in the sphere of public debate (read danah boyd’s work for a better understanding of all of this)
Take a look …
This video pulls some of the ideas from the research article, and hopefully, it allows for several point of discussion, including:
- What rights should young people have in the Digital Age?
- How do we articulate their concerns?
- How can we empower young people to be part of the conversation and support their unique status when technology companies and governments try to exploit them?
- Where is the line between adult protectiveness and youthful exploration?
I don’t have the answers. But, as a teacher and a father, I am often thinking about it. I hope you are, too.
Peace (in the kids’ world),