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No Minor Futures: pathways to Share, Learn and Do! fairer digital futures with and for children

15.08.2022 | Author: Soledad Magnone

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No Minor Futures (NMF) is a global education campaign supported by Mozilla to highlight the values, needs and wants of adolescents in relation to digital technologies and Artificial Intelligence (AI). It aims at showcasing pathways for governments, tech developers, researchers and activists to collaborate with children and adolescents towards fairer digital futures. To this end, in this article we share key insights of the NMF’s process and rationale to inspire a digital governance that balances children’s protection and participation. Since 2020, JAAKLAC’s various projects have been focused on (a) Critical Digital Education, (b) Rights-based Research and Advocacy, and (c) Children and Youth Participation. Learn more.

How are the younger generations benefiting from digital technologies? How are they being harmed by these?

Innovations such as AI are increasingly affecting our lives. On social media apps, like Youtube, Instagram and TikTok, AI shows news and suggests purchases. AI is used to develop prosthetics to complement human bodies in case of accidents or disabilities. It also uses information about best body postures to prevent injuries. Governments use AI to decide which people need assistance and how it can be provided. Furthermore, AI can automate learning processes for teachers to make education more effective. Children are one third of people online globally. Tech companies target younger generations as trend setters and they are even defined as ‘Generation AI’. Nonetheless, digital solutions are exclusively designed by adults. This leads to misrepresenting children’s experiences and overriding their right to participate in matters that will affect them lifelong. In this light, it becomes imperative to innovate in strategies that entwine the knowledge across generations to manifest more equitable digital futures.

Share, Learn and Do!

NMF was based on online workshops, animated character stories, podcasts, and a social media campaign to raise and amplify the voices and visions of youth. The collaboration process was divided into three stages: (1) ‘Teen Spirit’ [March-April], to establish a group of adolescents from different countries and make adjustments to the agenda of activities; (2) ‘Do It Together’ [April-July], to develop the online workshops, character stories and podcasts in collaboration with technologists, activists and researchers. For this, the Teen Spirit collaborated in six Oficinas (workshops) with Derechos Digitales, Fix the Code, Data & Society and WILD FI; and (3) ‘Speaking Up’ [August], to launch a social media campaign strategy with young influencers (18 to 24 years old) from various regions of the world to expand our knowledge and challenge key stakeholders in digital governance to take part in NMF.

To ensure exchanging knowledge equally across generations and upholding the collaborative process of the campaign, the Oficinas were divided into segments of ‘Share’, ‘Learn’ and ‘Do!’. These allowed collaborators to share their viewpoints and experiences, to learn from each other and do tasks to research, reflect and create together. The project entwined different standpoints with youth and organisations from various cultures and backgrounds. For better inclusivity, notes and video bites (short videos) were sent dynamically to participants. The Oficinas were dedicated to (1) ‘What is AI? Innovations for and by children’ (JAAKLAC), (2) Digital Storytelling (WILD FI), (3) ‘AI in my social media (Fix the Code), (4) ‘AI in my welfare’ (Data & Society), (5) ‘AI in my education’ (NMF’s Teen Spirit) and (6) ‘AI in my privacy’ (Derechos Digitales).**

The video bites used Hyperaudio to add transcriptions automatically created with AI. These were reviewed by the participating youth and Adéṣínà Ayẹni (a.k.a Ọmọ Yoòbá), The videos are available in English, Spanish, Greek, Maltese, Italian, Hindi and Yoruba.

  • You can find the video bites, readings for ideas, sources of inspiration and tools HERE.

Critical Digital Education

The Oficinas were spaces for Critical Digital Education (CDE), to promote the understanding of how digital technologies affect individuals and societies. Furthermore, CDE fosters a broader participation to repurpose the digital ecosystem for the common good. CDE is built upon Paolo Freire’s ‘dialogic education’ which is key to uphold critical thinking, social justice and democracies. An education in and for the dialogue opposes conceptions of knowledge being deployed, and therefore, manipulating and oppressing students’ minds. Through this approach, participants’ lived experiences are recognised, especially by empowering voices of groups often excluded. It also deepens individuals’ understanding of reality, by inquiring their perspectives of the world in relation to the one of others.

Through the process of creating the Oficinas, we explored the possibilities of these as educational spaces using Participatory Action Research (PAR). The Oficinas prototyped instances of plural discussions with and for youth in digital governance. PAR blurs the lines between researchers and participants and bends theory into praxis, defined by Freire in Pedagogy of the Oppressed, as the “reflection and action upon the world in order to transform it”. Amongst traditions of PAR also stand out the work of Orlando Fals-Borda who underscored the value of folk culture. This, he argues, allows considering “cultural and ethnic elements frequently ignored in regular political practice, such as art, music, drama, sports, beliefs, myths, story-telling, and other expressions related to human sentiment, imagination, and ludic or recreational tendencies”. PAR enables to collectively decode and encode reality, especially amplifying historically marginalised voices.

Tune in :

  • Access the animated character stories, podcasts and educational resources.

  • Use the recommendations and resources from our media brief to amplify our campaign. Tag @jaaklac and use the hashtag #NoMinorFutures.

  • Take part in the conversation for pathways that are centred in our younger generations from around the world. What are the benefits and harms of Artificial Intelligence for children and adolescents? How can we balance their protection and participation in digital solutions?

  • Challenge governments, tech companies, researchers and activists to engage with children and adolescents to tailor solutions to their wants and needs.

  • Help us translate our website, educational resources and videobites. Send us a message to jallalla (at) jaaklac (dot) org.

Do It Together

No Minor Futures was in collaboration with:

Teen Spirit participants: Adele B., Alessia, Dimitris, george4all and Prachi.

Young influencers: Sandra Ruhizi, Ummi Said Vikash Singh and Chico Maker.

Fix the Code, Derechos Digitales, Data & Society, Adéṣínà Ayẹni (a.k.a Ọmọ Yoòbá), founder Yobamoodua Cultural Heritage, Hyperaudio and WILD FI.