New Ebook

Digitally Connected: Global Perspectives on Youth and Digital Media

An ebook presenting diverse diverse views, experiences, and insights on key challenges and opportunities.

“Digitally Connected: Global Perspectives on Youth and Digital Media,” is a first-of-its kind collection of essays that offers reflections from diverse perspectives on youth experiences with digital media and with focus on the Global South.  It creatively combines adult voices with written and visual contributions by young people from around the world.

The ebook is available for download at no cost at:

In this unique ebook, more than 30 academics, practitioners, government officials, tech industry representatives and activists team up with 25 youth contributors to share their views and opinions about digital technologies and the impact the Internet has on young people’s lives. Collectively, the contributors address a series of big questions related to youth and digital media by exploring key topics such as safety and wellbeing; identity, privacy and reputation; skills, literacies, and cultures of learning; creativity; innovation and entrepreneurship; participation and civic engagement; and youth participation and policy.

By making these diverse reflections and youth contributions available to the public, we hope to continue and further stimulate the global conversation about both the challenges and opportunities children and youth face online,” said Urs Gasser, executive director of the Berkman Center and the book’s co-editor.

The ebook is an output of Digitally Connected, an initiative incubated by the Berkman Center in collaboration with UNICEF that brings together a network of people from around the world who, together, are addressing the challenges and opportunities children and youth encounter in the digital environment.

The heart and soul of Digitally Connected is this amazing group of people from all around the globe. Together we aspire to make the Internet an even better place and experience for all children and youth,” said Sandra Cortesi, director of Youth and Media and the book’s co-editor.

Digitally Connected was launched in April 2014 at a first-of-its-kind international symposium on children, youth, and digital media co-hosted by the Berkman Center and UNICEF, in collaboration with PEW Internet, EU Kids Online, the Internet Society (ISOC), the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI), and  This event was followed by Conectados al Sur,” a regional (Latin America and Caribbean) symposium on child and youth digital citizenship co-hosted by Argentina’s Ministry of Justice and Human Rights through the National Directorate for Personal Data Protection, UNICEF Argentina (with the support of the Division of Communication at UNICEF headquarters), and the Berkman Center. The goal of both events was to debate the challenges and opportunities youth encounter online, map and explore the global and regional state of relevant research and practice, share and discuss global insights and ideas, and encourage collaboration between participants across regions and continents. With a particular focus on voices and issues from the Global South, the events addressed topics such as inequitable access, risks to safety and privacy, skills and digital literacy, spaces for participation, civic engagement, and innovation.


For questions or media inquiries, please contact Youth and Media Director Sandra Cortesi at


Youth and Online News: Reflections and Perspectives

Here at Youth and Media, we’ve been thinking about the present and future of news for a while (and we’re not alone in that). Today, we’re excited to share a series of short essays written by friends and colleagues that offer insightful, provoking, and out-of-the-box reflections and observations at the intersection of news, digital media, and youth.

We hope you’ll enjoy and be inspired by these essays, which reflect the diversity of ideas and perspectives of the Berkman community, with contributions from: Sarah Genner, Erhardt Graeff, Paulina Haduong, Rey Junco, Luis Felipe R. Murillo, Dalia Othman, Geanne Perlman Rosenberg, Emily Robinson, Mayte Schomburg, Brittany Seymour, Hasit Shah, and Sara M. Watson. While some of the essays are closely connected to previous and ongoing Youth and Media research, others reflect personal experiences and observations, or highlight insights gained from other projects.

The essay collection, “Youth and Online News: Reflections and Perspectives,” is available for download through SSRN here:

We hope that this collection, which is a contribution to the Robert M. McCormick Foundation Why News Matters program, will provoke further stimulate the conversation about the news-related challenges and opportunities youth encounter in the digital environment — and we want you to be a part of it!

We welcome your reactions and reflections, and hope you will stay connected with us via and @YouthAndMedia. Thank you for your support!

Social Media in the Classroom: A Conversation with YaM Mentor Rey Junco

Rey Junco’s favorite color is purple. He also mixes beats on his laptop. Electro beats, to be exact. And he’s got an energetic, friendly voice and enthusiasm for online platforms that make him a particularly good candidate for studying social media. Rey, a Berkman Center faculty associate and Youth and Media Lab Mentor, looks at how Twitter and other social networking platforms can be used by instructors to enhance student academic success. In this podcast, Luisa Beck talks with Rey about how these platforms can increase student engagement, what ‘engagement’ in different contexts may mean, and about some of the research questions he’s currently pursuing.

Rey outlines his 2012 study “Putting twitter to the test: Assessing outcomes for student collaboration, engagement and success”, in which he finds that the use of Twitter in educationally relevant ways can increase student engagement and even lead to better grades. He explains that students get a lot more excited about using social media for class discussions than learning management systems like Moodle, Blackboard, or Desire2Learn. In his research, Rey also found that the quality of discussions about class material is better on social networking sites than on learning management systems.

This year, Rey wants to study how online anonymity may allow introverted students to feel more comfortable being creative, voicing their opinions and experimenting in online spaces. Scholars refers to this as the “online disinhibition effect” which, as Rey explains, would be when normally shy students who wouldn’t risk saying something “dumb” in the physical classroom, may feel less anxious about sharing anonymously or pseudonymously online. Rather than focusing on the incivility (such as cyberbullying and name calling) that media often associate with online anonymity, Rey’s goal is to focus on such positive opportunities. He hypothesizes that when otherwise inhibited students receive responses to the thoughts they share or questions they ask online, it will give them validation. In turn, this may encourage them to share their thoughts and ask questions in the classroom and other physical spaces.


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Games for Civic Engagement: A Conversation with Berkman Fellow Eric Gordon

Thomas Jefferson once hailed town hall meetings the “wisest invention ever devised by the wit of man for the perfect exercise of self-government.” But in many 21st century towns and cities, town hall meetings are barely even attended. And if they are, it’s often the same people showing up, from the same demographic groups. But Eric Gordon, Berkman fellow and founder of the Engagement Game Lab wants to change that. With games like Hub2, Participatory Chinatown and Community PlanIt, he wants to increase civic  participation by gamifying planning processes. In this podcast, Youth and Media Research Assistant Luisa Beck had the chance to talk with Eric about his interest in games, civic engagement and how his lab has managed to combine the two.

Luisa learned that Eric became interested in games for civic engagement through his interest in the connection between media and urbanism. In his scholarly work, he was studying how people navigate urban spaces and how media frames those spaces, both historically and in the present. He started thinking about that theoretical and historical work in an interventionist way.

The first project Eric worked on, Hub 2, used the online platform Second Life as a tool to help people navigate and make decisions about the development of a park in Allston. During the game’s design and implementation process, Eric explored the affordances of how mixed reality could augment deliberation. Entering a virtual space gave people a baseline understanding of how designed spaces might look in the future and how they might navigate them.

Eric’s second project was called Participatory Chinatown. It was an extension of the Hub2 idea, but instead of using Second Life, his team decided to partner with the Asian Community Development Cooperation and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council to build a game around the Chinatown master planning process. To develop the game’s content, youth from an organization called “A-VOYCE” photographed Chinatown neighborhoods. These photographs became the skins for 3D models of Chinatown. The youth also created composite characters for the game based on real-life interviews they did with people in their communities.

The Engagement Game Lab’s most recent game is called Community Plan It. Its challenges are designed so that players generate comments about the planning process, while also learning something about their city. Those comments are then collected, shared with city planners and officials, and made publicly available online. When the game is over, players can pledge the coins they earn during the game to a local cause they care about. It has had many successes in cities such as Boston, Detroit and Philadelphia. But Eric explains that there are still quite a few challenges: CPI is great at generating data, but what Eric wants to find now are ways of empowering people to deliver their own data to city officials in ways that are so compelling that they can’t be ignored.

For more information about the Engagement Game Lab, you can go to or read Eric’s blog at

Hanging Out At YaM

Youth and Media welcomes local youth to visit the lab to learn more about us and our work. We invite youth who are interested in video and graphic design or in teaching and outreach to join us and support our work with your talents. We have many opportunities for youth to get involved in content creation and workshops.

YaM – The Vision

YaM’s vision is described in an inspiring video created by young members of YaM in collaboration with close collaborators and friends:


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