The Berkman Center for Internet & Society is engaged in a research project concerning the online safety risks to children in developing countries. The digital divide between developed and developing countries is narrowing, and while this brings many new opportunities and resources into the lives of young people, it also exposes new groups with less digital literacy to a range of cyber risks.
Current efforts seek to make information and communication technologies (ICT) available to children in developing countries to improve education and quality of life. While some of these groups acknowledge online safety as an issue that should be addressed in the future, this has not, as yet, been targeted as a priority. We hope that this project will be an opportunity to provide the additional time and resources necessary to work towards solving the safety issues that have been identified but not yet addressed.
As a complementary contribution to this research, the Berkman Center has collaborated with UNICEF on an exploratory study, released in June 2010. The paper’s three main objectives were:
- to raise awareness about issues related to digital safety for youth in developing nations
- to provide a tentative map of these issues and give insights into the current state of the respective research based on an exploratory literature review; and
- to outline the contours of a research framework through a series of working hypotheses that might inform subsequent research efforts on these issues by connecting efforts in developing and industrialized nations.
Building on this exploratory study, the Berkman Center is collaborating with the Digital Media and Learning (DML) Research Hub, supported by the MacArthur Foundation (dmlcentral.net). The Center housed a DML Research Hub Working Groupto explore further safety issues related to the use of digital technologies (including mobile phones) in the developing world. The working group seeks to make a significant short-term contribution to research and practice by collecting and making available the scattered information that is available on this important, but under-researched topic. In the longer term, the proposed initiative may serve as an open “one-stop shop” for data created by an international network of researchers and practitioners working in this field.
For more information about the project, please visit our Wiki or contact us.