Youth in Developing Countries

With a particular focus on voices and issues from the developing world, this research and advocacy initiative addresses both challenges and opportunities youth face in the digital environment, including (but not limited to) inequitable access, risks to safety and privacy, skills and digital literacy, and spaces for participation, civic engagement, and innovation.

Research Partnership with UNICEF

Acknowledging a widening knowledge gap between the developed and developing world, the Berkman Center has been serving as a research partner to UNICEF’s Digital Citizenship and Safety Project to explore youth and digital media issues around the globe. Building upon an initial, exploratory paper “Working Towards a Deeper Understanding of Digital Safety for Children and Young People in Developing Nations”, the Youth and Media team has closely collaborated over the past few years with the UNICEF Headquarter and various country offices to conduct research (using a mixed methods approach) on youth and digital media issues in different countries, including Argentina, Armenia, Indonesia, Kenya, Russia, South Africa, Turkey, Ukraine, Vietnam and Zambia.

The findings from these country studies have been made accessible through a series of reports:

  • Connected Dot Com: Young People’s Navigation of Online Risks (South Africa). Based on focus group discussions conducted across South Africa, this report explores how children and young people navigate online risks and makes recommendations on how policy makers, caregivers and schools can help build the resilience of young internet users.

  • South African mobile generation. This exploratory paper is a literature review that analyses the existing information and research available about Internet use and online safety in South Africa, examining the role of the Internet in the lives of children with a special focus on unequal access/digital divides.

  • From ‘What’s your ASLR’ to ‘Do you wanna go private?. This report focuses on South Africa and presents the results of a quantitative survey conducted on MXit, the most widely used social networking platform in the country.

  • Indonesian Youth Online. This report examines the importance of social media and other digital tools in the lives of Indonesian youth, noting the flourishing of mobile technologies in particular.

  • The UaNet Generation. This exploratory paper gathers existing information and research available about Internet use and online safety in Ukraine and examines the role of the Internet in the lives of children. The paper notes the preference for Russian and Western content, as well as dramatic rates of social network participation.

  • Youth of Turkey Online. This exploratory paper is a literature review that analyses the existing information and research available about Internet use and online safety in Turkey, examining the role of the Internet in the lives of Turkish children and young people with a focus on gender divides and cyberbullying, among other topics.

  • The RuNet Generation. This exploratory paper is a literature review that analyses the existing information and research available about Internet use and online safety in Russia, examining the role of the Internet (and specifically the “RuNet,” the Russian-language Internet) in the lives of children.

Reports are available at: http://www.voicesofyouth.org/en/citizens/tools-and-resources

International Symposium on Children, Youth, and Digital Media

Building upon the multi-year partnership between the Berkman Center and UNICEF, and in collaboration with PEW Internet, EU Kids ONline, the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI), and Youth.Policy.org, we will be hosting in Spring 2014 an international, invitation-only symposium “Digitally Connected: Towards a Global Community of Knowledge and Practice around Children, Youth, and Digital Media”. Bringing together academics, practitioners, young people, activists, philanthropists, government officials, and representatives of technology companies around the globe, the symposium aims to map and explore the global state of relevant research and practice, share and discuss insights and ideas from the developing and industrialized world, and encourage collaboration between participants across regions and continents. At the symposium we seek to:

  1. Map and evaluate our knowledge base on children, youth, and digital media globally with respect to core topics and issues, and identify potential knowledge gaps;

  2. Discuss commonalities and differences between findings and practices in both the developing and industrialized world, and evaluate the promise and limits of bi-directional knowledge exchange (e.g. around methods);

  3. Share tools, experiences, and ideas to create (more) effective interfaces between researchers and educators, policymakers, and the public at large to better inform challenges and opportunities digital technologies present in children’s and young people’s lives; and

  4. Contribute to network- and capacity building by facilitating collaboration among the participating organizations and individuals, with a particular emphasis on cross-country and cross-cultural bridge-building.

While invitation-only, there are a number of ways in which you can get involved if you are interested in the symposium or the project more broadly. Possibilities for collaboration include:

If you are from the Global South and would like to be a symposium participant, please send us an email with background information about your work.

International Community Building

In addition to the in-depth country studies and the upcoming symposium, we have hosted and participated in meetings and conferences with various stakeholders from around the globe to discuss how we can all work together to make the digital world better for all young people.

  • Events