iRights Youth Juries

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On April 9th the first two iRights Youth Juries were held at University of Nottingham. In collaboration with the civil society initiative, iRights, and Prof. Coleman’s lab from University of Leeds, CaSMa will be running 12 Youth Juries to allow children and young people to have a say about their rights on the internet. At the Youth Juries groups of 10 to 15 participants, aged 12-17, are asked to consider, debate and share ideas about the future of the internet.

The Youth Juries are recorded (on film and audio) and the results will feed into a major national report, which will be published by iRights in collaboration with CaSMa and Prof. Coleman. The report will be a valuable new source of evidence about young people’s views on the future of the internet and their rights online. This report will be circulated widely within government, industry and academic networks as a part of the wider iRights campaign to highlight the importance of young people’s rights on the internet.

Through a highly interactive process featuring actors and scenarios the participants are stimulated to engage in debate and voice their opinions, as well as completing a short survey at the beginning and end of each jury session.

The scenarios/discussion topics (implicitly) covered in the Juries were:

  1. Data tracking and sharing between internet corporations and the way this affects the privacy of users.
  2. Difficulties for trying to truly remove anything once it has been posted on-line, and the potential problems that can arise in the long term due to ill considered posts that were made when the participant was too young to know better.
  3. How difficult it can be to disengage from using social media or other online applications and what could be done to break such addiction.
  4. The psychological burdens of peer-pressure that can be magnified through social media posting behaviors.
  5. Some discussion about positive things that the internet can be used for, such as fundraising for good causes, of staying in touch with distant relatives.

With the help of the facilitating skill of Rose Dowling, from SHM foundation, the two groups of youths (15 in the morning and 18 in the afternoon) fully engaged with the Youth Juries process and generated a large number of interesting suggestions. Importantly, the process did not challenge the feasibility for implementing any of the suggestions (e.g. to make it so that you can completely remove things you posted online some time ago, “People should not be allowed to screenshots since that makes you lose control of where it is stored”). The purpose of the Youth Juries is to give young people a chance to make their thoughts and voices heard so that they can feed into future policy debates, not generate fully formed solutions.

It will be interesting to see and analyze the full transcripts of the Youth Juries.

Preliminary results and a video illustrating the process, will be presented at the next Web We Want festival at the end of May 2015.

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