Beyond Borders: Global Perspectives on Digital Media and Children (#AtE)

Beyond Borders: Global Perspectives on Digital Media and Children (#AtE)

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[Kris Perry]: Welcome everyone to today's  Ask the Experts webinar, Beyond Borders,   Global Perspectives on Digital Media and Children.  I am your host, Kris Perry, Executive Director of   Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media  and Child Development. For our 55th webinar,   and the last of our 2022 season, we wanted  to widen our lens to examine, globally,   the role and impacts of digital media in the  lives of children today. Today we are joined   by a remarkable panel of international experts  hailing from Australia, Chile, Kenya, India,   the UK, and, of course, right here in the U.S.,  who have come together to discuss the latest  

trends in youth media habits, research policies,  and parenting perspectives from around the world.   Together, they will examine both variances  and commonalities in the ways that different   countries, regions, and cultures experience  and respond to the digital world. The essential   elements of child development and well-being  are universal, but different backgrounds and   environments provide unique challenges and  opportunities. Over the next 90 minutes, we  

hope to shed a bit more light on how youth around  the world are engaging with technology, what we   know about the impacts of digital media on their  development and well-being, and what different   communities are doing to protect, educate, and  advocate for children. Without further ado, I   would like to introduce you to today's moderator,  Dr. Sonia Livingstone. Sonia is a professor in   the Department of Media and Communications at  the London School of Economics and Political   Science. Among many other roles, Sonia currently  directs the Digital Futures Commission with the  

Five Rights Foundation and the Global Kids Online  Project with UNICEF. She is a celebrated author,   researcher, policy advisor and all around expert  on children's rights and safety in the digital   age. And we are so excited to have her with us  today to lead this discussion. Welcome, Sonia. [Dr. Sonia Livingstone]: Thank you so much, Kris.  And it's a pleasure to be here and to be here with   some really brilliant experts and to know  that there are many people on the call who   are fascinated by a topic that certainly  fascinates me, which is what is happening   to children and young people as they grow  up in a digital age all around the world,   in very different parts of the world.  And, in some ways, as you said,   having some very different experiences. But in  other ways, perhaps there are commonalities. So,  

I love this title of Beyond Borders. Children's  lives cross borders and are transnational in many   ways. And of course, technology crosses borders  in ways that many people find quite scary because   it has connected people, places like never before.  And yet, even though we try not to think more and  

more globally and my research with the Global Kids  Online Network, some people here are part of that,   has been trying to do research with children  all around the world and in very different   parts of the world. Which is challenging in its  own right. But today we want to synthesize some   of the insights from research and bring them  into conversation to share our knowledge and   to recognize some of the ways in which the world  and the Internet is not borderless. There are also   many borders. There are borders around language  as well as politics. And there are differences   among people. The differences are often matters  of inequality around geography and politics and  

religion and history. So there are many reasons  to imagine children's digital lives in different   parts of the world would be very different. And  yet there are other ways in which perhaps they   do all share in a common digital experience. So  that's what we'll examine. I'm a firm believer in   the importance of research, so I'm glad we have  some experts here. I think research can help us  

slay some myths. It can help us answer the many  questions that I know this audience has and that   and that you'll be posting later. I think some  questions have already been posted. I think also   research can help us question assumptions. It  can help us question what we thought we knew   and challenge us to see the world afresh. So we're  going to be talking about very different parts   of the world. Keep in mind a kind of comparative  perspective. I learned this about India. How is it  

in Kenya? How is it in America? How is it in Chile  and so forth? We'll try to keep all the different   parts of the world in our minds and perhaps before  I turn over to our speakers, just say within the   global kids online perspective. And that effort to  think about children's lives globally, we do try   very hard to keep thinking about the risks and the  opportunities in balance. And I say that because I   know parents often kind of come with the risks and  the anxieties to the forefront of their mind. But   I think when we listen to children's voices,  they are very excited by the opportunities.   Somehow we need to bring those opportunities  and risks together and to recognize children's   lives in a holistic way, to kind of recognize  the complexity, the diversity, but also the   practical reality of their growing up in a  digital world. And perhaps we’ll also learn   from children's experiences. I think there are  some on our panel who are committed. The adults  

have something to learn from children and research  can help us with that, with that process too. So   we're going to have five speakers and each is  asked to speak for around 5 minutes. And they   will give you a sense of their research commitment  and their research insights. And then we'll come   to the Q&A and I look forward to what it is  to discover what's on the mind of everybody   here. And as Kris said, we will run. And I  can't say what time it will stop at because  

everyone here is on a different time zone. But  we will stop in about an hour and 20 minutes.   So, I'm going to start by introducing - I’m  going to introduce each of our speakers as   they present. So, I'll begin with David  Kleeman, who is a strategist, analyst,   author, speaker and connector. Very good for  the digital age. Who has led the children's  

media industry in developing sustainable child  friendly practices for more than 35 years,   and has been committed to looking worldwide for  the best practices. Originally as president of   the American Center for Children and Media and  now a senior vice president of Global Trends   for Dove It, a strategy research consultancy  and Metaverse Studio. David might enlighten us   about that metaverse in his presentation  also. So, David, over to you. Thank you. [David Kleeman]: Thank you so much, Sonia and  thank you to Children and Screens for inviting   me to be here. I'm so glad to be with such  a great international panel. I am going to  

share my screen and I'm going to try to do a  juggling act here, which is to present kind of   two different perspectives in the space of my  5 minutes. We'll see if I can actually get it   all done. Where I want to start is - I want to  start with a global look because we do conduct   global research and then I'm going to go on to  look more at North America and Northern Europe   and what some of the megatrends are there. Just to  let you know, the slide data that I'm going to be   presenting today comes from something my company  does, cover trends. We survey 2000 kids in the US   and 1300 in the UK twice a year and then also 18  other countries that we visit roughly once a year   in ways that are balanced in the national profile  and capturing the range of kids and families in   those countries. We work with 2 to 18 in the US  and UK, 2 to 15 in most of the other countries.   I'm focusing on four countries in the first part  of this today from our most recent survey this   last fall. I've chosen those four countries in  part because the US is always the first adopter of  

everything. And when I get to the part about the  US and North America and Northern Europe, you'll   see how that works. France is somewhat of a more  traditional media culture, a little bit slower to   adopt things for their kids. Parents are a little  more restrictive. Brazil and Malaysia present two   rather different emerging market perspectives. And  I've chosen to focus on 6 to 11 year olds because   it's such a fascinating audience right now. As  it says here, you're one foot in preschool, one  

in adolescence. They are free to make their own  decisions. You'll see how technology has come into   their lives at that age, and they are very eager  to be in control of their own media situations.   There we go. At that age of looking across these  four countries, at that age of 6 to 11, they are   migrating from the tablet to the smartphone. The  tablet is becoming kind of the baby thing that  

they used when they were little for educational  apps and such. But as soon as they get hold of   a smartphone, then you can see that by the age of  11, in some places, 50% of kids have a smartphone   that you see Malaysia and Brazil, they’re at  50%, largely because they are more Android   based countries where it's less expensive to get  a phone. U.S, we are getting very close to the   average age of getting your first smartphone  being between, say, eight and ten. So that's   creeping up very quickly. And the television used  to be the rite of passage. You get a TV in your   own room. No longer. Now, it's really getting  the smartphone. This is the rite of passage.   Much more of their television time and video time  is spent with the big screen in the living room.  

We look at just how many brands and stories and  things come at kids in the course of the day,   and it's just overwhelming. You can see that this  is just the number of independent brands that are   spontaneously mentioned by the 6 to 11 year olds.  And you can see it numbers in the hundreds when   you add up all those different things. And what  that means is they are constantly faced with   this attempt to make sense of a world around  them that is just full of different stories,   brands, characters, trying to get their attention.  Increasingly, the brands that are their favorites  

are coming from the digital world. Here you  can see that where the little block is in   your green background, those are the digital  origination brands like Roblox, like YouTube.   And it used to be that almost all of the screen  would have been blue, it would have been things   that came from television. But now, we've really  made a shift where kids are discovering new things  

through digital and their favorite things are in  the digital world. They may be on other platforms   as well, but they are substantially reflected  in the digital world across all these four very   different countries. The top apps that they're  playing with right now are advanced messaging   and social. This is 6 to 11. So remember, a lot  of these kids are not supposed to be on most  

of these platforms, but they are there. They  are finding their way there. They will have a   platform to fulfill their needs as they need.  And you can see how important it is that they   control their media environment, that they are on  platforms where they get to choose what they play,   they get to talk to their friends, where they get  to communicate. That became especially important   during the pandemic when they really had to  turn to digital to connect with their friends.   So let me turn now to North America  and Northern Europe and look at   when you have a culture of plenty, when  you have so much media coming at kids,   how do they manage it? There are certain problems  that they face, challenges that they face.  

And I want to look at how they deal with those.  Everything in their life competes with everything   else. It's no longer, do I watch this television  program or this television program. Do I play this   game or this game? It’s, do I watch this TV show?  Do I play this game? Do I get on a communication   app with my friends? Do I go out and play? Do  I pick up a toy? And that's why the head of   Netflix says we compete with Fortnite more than we  compete with HBO and lose to them. So everything   competes with everything in kids' lives. Then  there's the paradox of choice. This is the head   of FX networks who says, “any time you choose one  thing, you are un-choosing everything else. You   don't even know whether the thing you chose was  the one thing you really wanted most. It would  

please you most.” And that accounts in some ways  to the rise of TikTok. Instead of committing to a   half hour television program, young people want  to say, you know, if I don't like something,   I can go on to the next thing. And that's one of  the attractive natures of Tik Tok. That plus the   fact that it's built for the smartphone, which,  as I said before, is their key platform of choice.   So how do they manage it? They have a purpose for  every device we find in our research. I should   point out that it is not an academic organization,  it's a market organization. So our research is   probably going to look a little different in its  nature and in its findings from maybe some of the   academic research that we'll hear about going  on. But in each case, they choose the device  

for the purpose that they have. So even though  they have all these things in front of them.   There are times of day when several of them  are on at once. After school we think of as   the Bermuda Triangle of media because the TV goes  on, the smartphone goes on, the game controller   may go on. But they really make sense of this by  knowing this is where I want to spend my time with   video. This is where I want to spend my time  with social. This is where I want to play games.  

The other way we find they manage is what we call  emotional scheduling. This was really surprising   to us when we first noticed it through the course  of the day. Kids make constant choices through the   day of what they are going to be doing, and  it's largely based on their emotional state.   And then finally, the other way they manage is  “iCan Generation,” they want to be builders,   not just consumers. They don't want to be  seen as users. And that accounts for the   many platforms that they choose. This story  on the right is about the kid who created the   entire world from Encanto in Minecraft and  then created a video of the song “We don't   talk about Bruno” using his iPad and this world  that he created. That's where I'll stop for now,  

and I look forward to the discussion  and I'm happy to share these slides. [Dr. Sonia Livingstone]: Thank you very much,  David. I hadn't heard of the Bermuda Triangle of   Media before, but I think that will resonate with  many parents who know exactly what that moment is.   And yes, I like the iCan generation,  too. So from North America and  

Europe particularly, we're going to move  to thinking about Latin America. I'd like   to introduce Dr. Patricio Cabello, who is an  assistant professor at the Center for Advanced   Research in Education and the Institute of  Education at the University of Chile. He's   also the head of Kids Online Chile. So we've  worked a lot together in Global Kids online,   and his research focuses on students and teachers  21st century skills. I think parents would like   to know people in the audience would like  to know what those 21st century skills are,   analyzing especially the impact of inequalities  in developing digital skills and collaborative   problem solving skills in the Latin  American context. So, Patricio, over to you.

[Dr. Patricio Cabello]: Thank you, Sonia. And  thank you to Children and Screens and all the   audience. I'm very happy to share this content  with all of the panelists. I will talk about   some of the findings that we had in Latin America,  especially in Chile. I am not going to talk on   behalf of the Latin American network, but I will  share some of the results that we have achieved,   some of the outcomes of this compared research  program that it's been for almost like seven   years that we have been working with our  mates from other Latin American countries.   So I will give you just, at least something  like, some of the main outcomes and some of   the things that we are discussing these days.  That's a very short introduction because it's  

very important for us for you to know also that we  have this Latin American network that it's kind of   part of Global Kids Online, of course. We have  Brazil that has been working with this data from   2012, Chile's from 2016 and 2022, where right now  we are conducting our second version of the kids   online survey. And also a short, small qualitative  research. Also Costa Rica have conducted this and   they had planned to conduct a second wave to or  are also conducting. They have just finished the   fieldwork of the new version. Argentina already  did something in 2016 and now it's preparing for  

2023. So this is the scope of the countries that  we have been working with. And I will tell you   some things that are quite common between us and  of course, I have the bias of and talk a little   bit more about Chile, of course. One of the most  important things, I tried to organize this into   two topics: households and individuals and school  context. And that's important, the thing about  

context, because now in our new wave, our new  version of the Kids Online, we went to schools   to conduct this survey. This is originally a  household questionnaire where children were   interviewed with a very long and very, very  complex questionnaire about their experiences   and also what their parents think and what they  feel about their uses of digital media. What we   found already is that we have a digital underclass  which we call this digital underclass because it's   children that have been connected mostly through  cell phones at home. That means that the need is  

like more than 50% in the region do that. Chile  is 53%. Other countries a little bit more, some   of them are a little bit less, but it's around 50%  of them are using only cell phones at home where   they don't have all the affordances of a mobile  device. And of course it is not very suitable   for learning and for example, using it for typing  and they have various causes of memory and so on.   Another thing we found that’s very important  to think about digital skills for children   and parents and teachers. and, And  the digital skills are, of course,   not fairly distributed, are actually under the  influence, of course, of the inequalities of   their region. The role of parental and  teachers mediation, which is something  

that is very important for us. And there are two  main types of mediation, acting versus restricted   mediation. And we found that active mediation is  quite more effective for giving more opportunities   to children and restricted mediation has  not been very effective to avoid risks.   We are also a ladder of participation in  this society, which is something that Kids   Online have been working at by Sonia. Which  is how we have been comparing, you know,   how we from country to country have like the  same ladder, you know. Some of the digital  

practices are very usual at the bottom. And  creative practices, for example, of discussing,   you know, high end. Lack of information for  parents is something that we have found also   how mediation sometimes is based on myths  or inaccurate information, which is very   common. In the school context, we have a lack  of digital skills and ample training. In Chile,   for example, 75% of teachers are not trained about  digital technologies at the initial education.   We have this very important difference  between rural/urban reality and we have   other things that we have found that we are just  starting to understand more. How cyberbullying,   for example, works and how cyberbullying even  can be related, for example, to inequalities,   to differences between genders, for  example, and also how schools, for example,   are getting involved in this. And this is part of  our current agenda. I think my 5 minutes went so  

I will stop here, but I will be happy to answer  any of your questions or comments afterwards. [Dr. Sonia Livingstone]: Thank you very much. I  like that you gave a little insight into some of   the behind the scenes of how one does this  research, how we get hold of this kind of   information about children's lives  in different parts of the world.   And also emphasizing that question, we're not just  looking at differences across countries, but there   are also big differences within countries. So your  point about the digital underclass and also the  

urban rural difference I think will resonate  in many parts of the world. Yeah. Thank you.   I'm going to turn now to Amanda Third.Well, she's  talking, I'm told, from the Asia Pacific region,   though I know she's sitting in Australia right now  in the middle of the night. So Dr. Amanda Third is   a professorial research fellow at the Institute  for Culture and Society, and she's co-director of   the Young and Resilient Research Center at Western  Sydney University, and a faculty associate at the   Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at  Harvard University. And she has led child centered   projects to understand children's experiences of  the digital age in over 70 countries, working with   lots of different partners. I think she'll give us  a sense of what it is that children have told her.

[Dr. Amanda Third]: Thank you, Sonia. I'm very,  very honored to be speaking alongside the other   panelists this morning. There's indeed some  very esteemed colleagues. And I want to start   by acknowledging that actually some of the work  that we have done in those 79 countries has been   led in countries around the world by some of the  people on this call. So a big shout out to them.  

I'm going to focus this morning on Southeast  Asia and the Pacific region. I did just want   to flag that we have gathered qualitative data,  so really deep dive data, that in workshops with   children around the world and I'll hone in on  the Asian Pacific this morning. Recently I've   had the pleasure of leading three large projects  in the region, so that's what I'll draw on today.  

I think the first thing that I would point out  is just the incredible diversity of our region,   as Sonia's sort of has already  begun to gestione, you know,   we have children who are accessing the Internet  via mobile phone under a coconut tree with lots   of other children surrounding them and they're  watching YouTube videos together right through to   the fortunate child who, you know, has  really access to their technology. But,   I think regardless of the diversity of children's  experiences across the region, what we have also   ascertained is that there really are a lot of  commonalities and that some of the stereotypes   that we have about the differences  between low and high income countries   don't necessarily apply. You have children in low  income countries with lots of technology, and you   also have children in high income countries  in the region who are really struggling to get   online. And I think that's one of the things that  we need to really pay attention to, particularly,   you know, access for children across the region  is fraught. A lot of children, the biggest barrier   that they face is Internet access. And across the  region, too, primarily, children are going online  

via a mobile phone. And this has consequences for  the kinds of quality of experiences that they can   have. Many of them are doing that via a shared  mobile device. So similar to what Patricio was   just saying about in Latin America, they may only  have Internet access when they're outside school,   you know, using a phone in the family, that a  phone that essentially may not belong to them,   but even where it does belong to them, that  they're coming online via, predominantly, via   a mobile phone. Like children around the world,  they're primarily using digital technologies to   communicate, to connect with each other, with  their families, and with networks of interest,   to share information and express their ideas and  to seek information. And indeed, one of the big   challenges we have in the region is children being  able to access information that is robust and   trustworthy and in a language that children speak.  Because, of course, for a lot of our part of the  

world, you know, the majority of the Internet is  in English and so language becomes a key barrier.   I want to briefly highlight some of the barriers  that we're experiencing, or children are   experiencing, in the region. Firstly, access to  hardware. The cost of devices and so on is often   prohibitive for a lot of children. Many children  still face unreliable electricity and data supply,   so that really shapes how they can get online,  when and what they can do, although there are   some strong improvements in the region. There's  just been a new underwater cable opened up to the  

Pacific Islands, which means that more and more  children are coming online there. But that itself,   you know, now that children have access to  digital technology in that part of the world,   you know, that's throwing up a whole bunch of  new issues because, of course, children are   coming online in a context where adults haven't  got the background with using technology to.   Children in our region say very clearly that  parental rules, attitudes and their limited   digital literacy skills negatively impact their  online experiences. So again, the restrictive   kind of dimension of parenting really giving  children a sense that they can't do the things   that they want to do. For example, it takes time  online to craft the skills to be able to create   digital content. And that's very hard. It's hard  to take that time when your parent is telling you  

constantly to get off the technology. They also  worry about their own digital literacy skills.   The content that they access is predominantly  in English and often doesn't serve their needs.   And they feel like they don't always trust the  platforms they engage with and they and they don't   always feel safe. At the same time, though,  children have really strong aspirations for   the Internet. They're very excited about coming  online, using digital tools and so on. They're  

really wanting more support to be able to maximize  those opportunities. And I think that's a message   that goes to, you know, that children around  the world are sending. I just want to finish   very quickly just to let you know, we do have a  joint statement from four countries in the region   about what they want from their digital world. And  I want to highlight just a few little things here.   Just to sort of give you a flavor of what  children are saying. Really, they want these   digital experiences to be meaningful and they  want them to be good for their mental health. And  

they really want trustworthy platforms that will  keep their data secure and respect their privacy.   They want to be protected from harm and to treat  each other from kindness, but to shout out to   parents and teachers. They're really calling on  those groups to really know about online safety   so that they can help children stay online and  they want to be provided with support, guidance   and information about how to protect themselves.  So there's much more there and I'll drop a link   to this particular report into the chat, but  thank you for your time. Back to you, Sonia. 31:22 [Dr. Sonia Livingstone]:  Thank you. Thank you so much,   Amanda. You really remind me, we often say, in  kind of public discourse, that we want children  

to be more sensible and kind and reliable and  responsible and respectful online. But actually,   I love that the children say now they would like  the platforms, the content, the environment online   to be more trustworthy and respectful and  positive for their life experiences. So I   think when we think of our anxieties about the  digital world, we can't hold the children solely   responsible for making things better. It is  also down to the, sometimes very wealthy,   companies that provide this digital opportunity.  So I'm going to turn now to our fourth speaker,   Dr. Manisha Shelat. She's going to speak to us  about children in India. Manisha is a professor   of communication and digital platforms and  strategies and chair of the Center for Development   Management and Communication at MICA in India.  She's leading the India component of the Global  

Kids Online study. So, I have worked with her  and I see she's also doing a collaborative study   with the Young and Resilient Research Center of  Western Sydney University. So I think she must   be working with Amanda. Manisha, we look forward  to hearing about Indian kids online. Thank you. [Dr. Manisha Shelat]: I just want to  start with the disclaimer that you know,  

certain pictures in my presentation, and  these are not the actual children that I'm   talking about. They have posed for this. And  you will realize that it's so difficult to   represent a country like India in 5 minutes,  so there are bound to be some shortcuts. And,   you know, I do want to break the stereotypes.  I just want to say that there's no intention to   create these stereotypes here. But, these are the  shortcuts that I had to take in my presentation.   What happens in India is that we have a very  contradictory perception of what digital media   are all about. So in one way, you know, we  have parents and governments and teachers.  

We all think that digital media are a route to,  you know, a completed degree, a well-paying job,   and also nation building. And on the other side,  you know, that is the schools, say that they are   the root cause of everything that is evil. So  all the risks, crimes, risky relationships,   health issues, you know, all of that, they come  to children through digital media and you see   this contradiction also reflected in government  policy. So for example, we have a big initiative   called Digital India, but at the same time we  banned Tik Tok in India and there was a huge   panic around poverty and global. But despite these  contradictions, you know, more and more people in   India have now got access to digital media thanks  to the low cost mobile data charges provided by   private service delivery organizations.  Also, there is more vernacular content   online. The pandemic has also played a role, so  there is definitely more access to digital media.  

But there is such huge intra-country diversity  which I want to just bring forward very briefly.   Again there are lots of similarities also despite,  you know, all these differences of caste, class,   gender, religion, open rule, and also individual  interest of children also matched a lot,   which we sometimes forget. So between all these  differences and influences, a lot of different   kinds of digital media users in schools emerge  in India. I'm just representing these quickly   through five profiles. Here is Aahna, she is  active on YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Discord,   she blogs once in a while. Digital media devices  and phones are everyday part of her life, you  

know, a very integral part. She has a very social  life. She posts pictures about her foreign trips   and her activities with friends on Instagram.  She also creates it on YouTube dance videos.   She regularly keeps in touch with her long  distance boyfriend through social media and   phone and in her circle, dating apps, like  Bumble and Hinge are quite common. She has  

access to all the audio platforms, the global  digital platforms, and her media diet is a mix   of Indian and global on all these platforms,  and also Spotify. She is quite technology   dependent in her day to day tasks. So this  is one kind of Indian youth that we have.   Next we have Farokh who is 14. For Farokh, they  have a shared desktop at home and he's promised   a laptop when he enters college and if he scores  really good marks in his school exams. So his  

digital media time is quite closely monitored  by his parents, which he sometimes resents,   but also in a way accepts, you know, as something  that is good for him. So he has limited digital   media time in which he usually watches YouTube  videos and watches replays of cricket matches or   Bollywood songs. He's part of many WhatsApp groups  like friends group, coaching, close friends group,   building friends group, dad’s side of the family,  mom’s side of the family. So it's very much a  

part of his day. Then we have Nimrat who is  17. She has a selection, so who she can see,   how she should interact, and how much time  she should spend on social media, basically.   And that means don't spend any time on social  media and don't post anything about yourself,   especially don't post any pictures. And that's  why she has a Facebook account using the pseudonym   and a picture of a famous Bollywood star. But she  does have a boyfriend who has secretly given her  

a phone and that is only for, you know, talking  to the boyfriend and sending messages to him.   And he keeps a close tab on, you know, what it  is she does on this. So she usually likes to,   whenever she gets time, you know, in the pretext  of meeting friends for homework, she has a shared   access to other people's Facebook accounts and  YouTube videos, and she makes good use of that   time. And then we have Suman who lives in a  tribal village of Madhya Pradesh. Suman has   benefited from a program in which the government  and a nonprofit are partners. And she is part of   this nonprofit squad, you know, who are trained  to use mobile phones to keep a tab on environment   conservation in the areas. She takes pictures  and videos of illegal, you know, environmental  

poaching activities, tree felling, she keeps a tab  of like harvested tree population compared to what   it was. She shares these photos and videos in her  WhatsApp network through these NGOs. Because the   nonprofit has given her the smartphone, though  she cannot cannot read or write, she makes use   of a lot of audio and video content. Yes, Sonia.  And the last one is this boy in a Mumbai slum   who does not own a smartphone. He helps, you know,  in the tea stall. And here he comes in contact  

with a lot of older boys, you know, and these  are his source of everything that is available   online. So he knows where porn is available and  he knows, you know, how these older boys get   into romantic relationships online. He also hangs  out with these boys, you know, in the community,   that is a big dance group and people get together,  you know, young boys, to practice breakdance. And   here he is watching global videos of breakdance,  you know, community with them. YouTube is like   the maximum used, you know, platform for him.  But he does have a Facebook profile again that  

he has started by faking his birth date. He's  only ten, but his older friends help him do all   these things. So very briefly, I am presenting,  you know, the variety of Internet and digital   media use that we find in India and that’s why we  always that that when we have a policy or program   on media literacy in India, we should make it  like an Indian sari, you know, which can be draped   around different bodies and, you know, different  occasions and not like a very tightly tailored   Western suit. So, thank you, and I think we'll  have more time during the discussion. Thank you. [Dr. Sonia Livingstone]: They absolutely will have  time in the discussion. And I love your metaphor  

of the sari, which I shall think more about.  I especially love the way, Manisha, you show   us how children's and young people's media use  is embedded in their daily, their life context,   and their life contexts are very diverse, so they  face different circumstances and that gives a   different purpose and a different need for their  media use, which we really need to keep in mind   when we say children or young people as a as a  vast generality. So I'm going to turn now to our   fifth speaker, and I appreciate everyone's efforts  in keeping up with the pace. It's a great pleasure  

to introduce Caleb Ndaka, who is the co-founder of  Kids Comp Camp. I'm sure he'll tell us about that.   A Kenyan based digital literacy initiative that  seeks to empower children and parents in rural and   underserved communities in Africa with the digital  skills that they need to thrive. He's also a   research associate at London School of Economics,  where I am and where he and I first met. Maybe we   first met on social media, actually, but I can't  quite recall. Anyway, Caleb, the floor is yours.

[Caleb Ndaka]: Thank you.  Thank you so much, Sonia.   Let me begin by acknowledging that my connection  is not very stable, and so I will have to forego   my slides and just present, which is a true  reflection on what children in Kenya go through,   just had two power outages. So that's preceded  by my slides and I hope that I am clear. Sonia? [Dr. Sonia Livingstone]: It's  all good. Yes, absolutely. [Clabe Ndaka]: Yes. So let me begin by introducing  the work that I do. I run Kids Comp Camp,   which is an initiative to help both children and  parents in rural and underserved communities to   catch up with a kind of digital driven society.  And the way we do our work is through a computer   camp model. We move from village to village,  from town to town, just trying to ensure that  

no child present in those in a rural area is left  behind by the current digital society. It's a big   pleasure for me to be here tonight. So, let  me just begin by discussing the major trends   when it comes to digital media. There are two big  platforms when it comes to children and parents,   and those two big platforms are Tik Tok, and  then we have WhatsApp. Now, Tik Tok came into the  

market almost like the last platform, but it has  grown so fast, the fastest growing platform among   children and young people. And the reason for that  is it has proved to be very easy to create content   and share that content within the platform, across  other social media platforms, as well as offline.   One particular thing about Tik Tok, which  has made it famous, it has become what we   call the viral platform. Because it's so easy  to see content online and offline. It's very   important at this point to mention that 70% of  Kenyans live in rural areas and most of them,   they are offline. But Tik Tok, and especially  only through this one particular feature,   which is called Tik Tok Challenge, has been able  to reach that gap of offline and online because   kids' devices are able to see what is happening  on online Tik Tok challenges and they're able to   replicate that offline. And so Tik Tok is growing  very fast because it's been able to bring that   online and offline divide, but also it's been  able to travel across rural and urban places.  

Just the other day I attended a school function  and I saw parents and students dancing to a Tik   Tok challenge, which is on all across. The second  platform, it's WhatsApp. WhatsApp has grown so   fast, to being more than just a digital platform,  actually being like a social infrastructure.   There’s a joke in Kenya that nothing happens  in a WhatsApp group. And the reason for that   is because WhatsApp has become embedded into  everyday use from rural to urban areas. It's   almost a de facto and every day platform. And so  as you look at many other uses of digital media,   for example, kids learn how to play games,  all the kids learning how to bet, it's all   embedded on WhatsApp, which becomes almost like an  infrastructure. And so, what are the main concerns  

of children and parents? Let me be clear. The  parents in Kenya are concerned about three big   things. First is the safety of their kids. And  when I say safety, I mean physical safety. There’s   been an increased number of kidnapping cases.  And most of those kidnapped kids, either way   of either children being groomed on WhatsApp or on  Tik Tok and being in very unsafe hands. So safety,  

physical safety, is one of the key concerns of the  parents. The other one is violence and culture.   In Kenya, most of us, we are very religious.  There are conservative values. And so there’s   a perception among most parents. Digital media and  technology is a thing of the West and this thing   of the West does not really respect our African  traditional values. And so parents increasingly   are getting concerned that access to technology  and access to digital media means being exposed   to, what I'm going to put in quotes, like this  violence which many a time are presented by things   like photography and cyberbullying and so on.  The last, but not the least, is the wellbeing of  

their kids. And with this, and I guess this also  comes with the perception which is coming from   the media, is it's just a panic around screentime  is leading to addiction or screen time is leading   kids to be lazy because they're not working in  the firms, they're now just sitting with their   devices and so they're not being productive.  But then as I finish up, what can we learn   from these trends and from this perception of  parents? And the first lesson that I think we   can learn is, and it's well captured  by an African proverb which says,   “it takes a village to raise a child.” Now, that  was a proverb which was used many times offline.   But even in the current society, we still find  it's very true. The other day, I met a group   of parents and informed the local community of  proactive and reassuring ways and means they   can keep their kids safe online. So access to  a reliable and accessible community of practice  

among parents is one of the very insightful things  that parents can leverage on and learn from each   other. Thank you so much and I look forward  to the final and contributing further on that. [Dr. Sonia Livingstone]: Thank you so much,  Caleb, and thank you to everyone for sticking   to time. I'm feeling slightly dizzy having been  to so many parts of the world right now, but  

I'm also actually very excited. I would also like  to thank everyone for putting their questions into   the Q&A because we now have time for questions.  And I want to draw our panelists together   in offering some insights. I might begin by  observing that lots of the questions that   have come in are about concerns, about  risk, the risks that the digital world   poses to children, and the worries  that adults, parents, and responsible   authorities have about that. And I'm going to  pick on certain people, but perhaps I might   start with Amanda and say something about -  Amanda, how do you think about that balance   between the opportunities, some of which Caleb  has elaborated, David also, and others. But   also that real sense of concern about the threat,  how should we, how should we focus our attention? [Dr. Amanda Third]: Yeah, it's a great question.  And I think actually the challenge that every  

parent faces, obviously. I think there are  a few key things to keep in mind here. And   a lot of this comes out of the Global Kids  Online research that Sonia and Patricio and   others have been doing, Manisha. But, you  know, and that is that the relationship   between risk and opportunity, your benefit  online for children, is not straightforward.   And it's very important for us to know what the  risks are as parents and to really have a sense   of the things that we can do to protect  our children. But also to be mindful,   to keep our concerns in check, because there are  many, many benefits for children to access online.  

And also, I think that, you know, access you know,  obviously, the more time a child spends online,   the more risks they are likely to encounter. But  at the same time, the more time they spend online,   the more skills they develop and the more kind of  protective strategies they can develop. So it's a   very complex equation. And I think and I think as  parents, we have to be staying very close to our   children's digital media practices. That doesn't  mean sitting down with them every time they use  

the media. It certainly doesn't mean knowing  everything there is to know about being online.   But it means having an openness to learning with  your child and to having regular conversations   with your child in order that you can actively  mitigate some of those risks. But I think,   as Caleb said very beautifully when he spoke,  it does take a whole village to raise a child   online. And, of course, it's not enough for  parents and children themselves to bear the  

responsibility for keeping children online.  We do need to call for environments that   prioritize the safety and the opportunities for  our children. And so I think the other thing that   we can do as parents is write letters, make  phone calls, you know, call for that change   as parents. Demand it as a consumer. So those  are some of the things that I think we should   keep in mind. But I think the other thing is  I would reassure parents on this call that,   you know, when people are, when you're being  a good parent and you're watching your child's   setting examples, you're modeling good technology  behaviors. These are all wonderful things that you   can do and things that actually we know from  the research make a difference to your child.

[Dr. Sonia Livingstone]: I think that's that's  very encouraging because I think people would   like to know what are the kind of practical  things that they can do and that have been   shown to make a difference and how can they move  away from some of those kind of very restrictive   parenting approaches into something  we might call more kind of positive   parenting. I'd like to come to David. I'm kind of  remembering the fabulous amount of choice that,   as you said, children are inundated with in  terms of many brands. How do you think about   that balance of risks and opportunities? Because  essentially you describe lots of opportunities,   but in that there are risks. And I don't know  how those figure in your world, and especially,   I'm just looking at one of the questions that came  in, which is whatever we provide for children,   what do we do when some children get  drawn into those more negative places? [David Kleeman]: Well, I think in terms of the  balance of risk and opportunity, I'm going to   come at it very quickly from three different  perspectives. And all three of those have a nod  

in them to the fact that governments worldwide  or regulators worldwide are really looking at   the digital world right now and are ready to step  in and regulate. Here in the US, we are building   models based on the European, the British age  appropriate design code. We are at a moment right   now where we get one shot at the sort of future  of media for young people. And if we don't make   it safe, if we don't protect privacy, they will  step in very quickly. So a nod to them. But the   three areas, one is we really need media literacy  education from the earliest stages. It’s sort of   ridiculous now that so many countries have not  acknowledged that we teach children how to read   in print, how to read text, but we still don't  acknowledge that screens and other forms of media   coming to them are so immersive in their day that  we really need to teach that from the beginning.  

From the perspective of the industry, I  am encouraged by some small developments,   for example, Roblox, one of the biggest platforms  for kids right now, has a vice president of   civil that they have someone whose job it is to  come at it from two different directions. One is   working with the people who make the games for the  platform and say, we're going to help you learn   how to make games that encourage people to be  good, to each other, that don't create situations   where the obvious choice or the preferable choices  used to be bad to each other. And the other   perspective, they come at it from the users. How  do we teach kids to be good users of the platform?   Good digital citizens? And then the third side  is parents. But I'm going to acknowledge from the  

beginning that what I'm about to say comes from  a real position of privilege. And hearing some   of the presentations about how kids access media  in other parts of the world, I'm a little anxious   about saying this. But, during the pandemic,  those parents who were privileged enough to be   home with their kids and watch what their kids  were doing with technology, I think often came   to a better understanding of the opportunities  that, you know, we've heard a couple of people   mention how hard it is to build something when the  parent is constantly saying, get off the computer,   turn off that thing. When parents saw what their  kids were building in Minecraft, when they saw the   games that they were creating in Roblox, when they  saw some of the things, the ways they were digging   into their passion with Google, with YouTube, I  think they came to a better understanding and a   better conversation with their kids about how  to encourage the good and discourage the bad. [Dr. Sonia Livingstone]: Nice. So perhaps  I can pick up on exactly that point  

and take it back to Patricio, thinking both of  the the question of media literacy or digital   literacy, you know, what do we want to be  teaching children and perhaps also parents?   But I'm thinking also, Patricio, what you said  about that kind of ladder of participation and   how not all young people have the opportunity  to kind of become so creative and to, you know,   really express themselves. So, is it  media education, media literacy that can   enable young people to have those creative  opportunities that David is talking about? [Dr. Patricio Cabello]: Of course, the word  media literacy is a very institutional word.   I think it's a word that comes from public  policy, from researchers, from schools,   from institutional framework. And I think it's  good and I think it's something that we should  

address. But we have to address that properly,  thinking always, I think. It's my perspective that   most of those digital skills that you need to, for  example, create content even for critical thinking   through digital media, are closely related  with cultural capital, if you can say so.   In cultural capital, this social capital, that  some kids have with a more strong, I think,   interaction with media technologies. Sometimes  people call this digital age, it's you know, that   it's a word to talk about some kids and not all  the kids and sometimes to even to, I don't know,   to make a little bit to cure these inequalities.  I don't know if I'm saying this correctly.

[Dr. Sonia Livingstone]: So  you're saying something I   think about the relative affluence  or education also of the parents. [Dr. Patricio Cabello]: In some of these, yeah,  it's something that's in the environment. And  

also, for example, we found that richer  children, children from rich families,   they have this digital access, they can access  everywhere. They have mobile phones, but they also   have multi device access. They have computers,  they have tablets, they have everything that's in   the market. It's not only digital technology that  works on its own, it's merged with the education  

of parents, it’s merged with other things that are  different in the culture and in the context that   they live. So for developing skills for a creative  context, for example, we need something more than   only digital literacy in this institutional way.  We have to face inequalities in how families,   for example, are dealing with this and how  they're parenting in a more active way. [Dr. Sonia Livingstone]: Thank you. And I might  take the question also to Manisha. And now that   we're on the subject, we're covering a lot of  areas quite fast. But I think this question  

of digital literacy or what education can do  to support a richer, deeper, more beneficial   engagement with digital technologies. Manisha, can  you maybe give us a little sense? Is there media   literacy education for children in India? And what  does it focus on? What should it focus on perhaps? [Dr. Manisha Shelat]: Yes, there is media  literacy education in India. But it's, again,   uneven. It depends on, you know, the state  you are in, whether you are in an urban area,   the kind of school you go to, there are also  nonprofits who are very actively working in the   scene. But what I feel that still a lot of media  literacy education is protectionist, focusing on  

how not to face harm or risk. I would like to see  more proactive media literacy education where,   you know, schools expose children to a lot of  the joyful and meaningful things that are present   online, and lots of civic opportunities that are  present online. Also schools closely working with   parents because it's very important that we  don't take the pleasure from kids. And so I   don’t want media literacy education that takes  the joy of digital media away from the kids.  

So I would like to see a close connection  between the policies, schools, and parents,   you know, and when they listen to children and  then, you know, plan the programs accordingly. [Dr. Sonia Livingstone]: Fantastic. Thank  you. So I don’t know if anyone else wants   to come in on the question of media  literacy, digital literacy. I know it is  

many hope that we really can educate  young people in ways that will enable   them to maximize the opportunities of  the digital world. Caleb I see that   you spend a lot of time really trying to  encourage children and teach them what they   need to know to manage the digital age. Do you  feel that media literacy initiatives in Kenya are   sufficiently supported and resourced to make that  difference? Or what would you want to see happen? [Caleb Ndaka]: Yeah, that's a very good  question. And the one that I spend a lot   of time thinking about and one of the things that  we've been learning from our work here is that,   and picking out good examples from, you know,  from, for example, Tik Tok and why it has been   so effective. The element of anchoring  digital literacy into local contexts.   And I'm going to give an example. We are, for  example, right now, something called Kikuyu Tik   Tok, which is the biggest tribe of Kenya. And  what we've seen of the last couple of months is  

this local comedian or local opinion leaders been  able to take, for example, how to use smartphones   or how to use computers and being able to put that  into local language, local analogy, and being able   to reach as many people as possible, especially  young youth and children in young places.   We've seen the government investing into devices,  but devices in schools are not the most effective   approach because we have, for example, in Kenya  right now a million devices, yet like 80% of them,   they are not being used because teachers are  not trained. There's technology phobia among   most adults. And so kids are not being given  spaces for them to explore and to learn. And so,   just this element of being context specific and  using local knowledge, local resources as proof   to work more effectively than the, you know,  the almost what I call the top down approach,   rather than trying to change that to work from  the community, give kids spaces, make it fun,   interactive, and they'll be able to  show it that productivity and growth.

[Dr. Sonia Livingstone]: That's a very  compelling image, really, that there is   the provision, there is the resources for  the hardware, but not necessarily for the   teacher training or the opportunities to consult  young people about what they themselves would   like. And I think we've seen this through the  history of technology, really, that there is   often the policy makers get excited about buying  the devices, but not about putting in the support.   David, I think you wanted to come in on what  media literacy could or should be doing. [David Kleeman]: I wanted to bring in a  perspective, a very practical perspective,   about young people teaching themselves about it.  And that is, two and a half years ago, the company   I work for was 60 people, 59 of them at Leeds  and myself in the UK and myself in Washington,   D.C. We are now over 150 people all over  the world and from all different cultures,  

all different economic levels, because  what we've discovered is young people,   for the platforms we are building for, young  people have taught themselves how to make gains,   how to make experiences, because they wanted to  make the things they wanted to play, the things   that they and their friends wanted to do. So  entirely intrinsically motivated. They've taught   themselves to be programmers, to be designers,  to be storytellers, and they are now coming   into the working world with those skills that they  develop because of their own intrinsic motivation. [Dr. Sonia Livingstone]: I very often hear a  kind of a debate in this domain between what   should education do, what can media literacy  do, but also what perhaps can regulation do,   or what should the government do more.  There are some questions coming in the  

Q&A also about what the government should be  doing to foster a more safer environment, to   support children online, indeed, families. I  wonder if, thinking of the different parts of the   world here represented, anyone might want to say  something about particularly successful policies,   successful government initiatives that maybe  those in other countries could learn from or be   stimulated by? So this is a question to anybody,  really. But have you seen a successful government   initiative whether it's regulation  or education or something else? [Dr. Amanda Third]: I can jump in quickly, Sonia.  I think, you know, there has been internationally   a real shift in the environment in that  there's been a strong call for regulation. And   I thi

2022-12-15 01:31

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