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Fall 2020 Reading Group

Youth, Privacy, and Digital Citizenship

Prerequisites: None

Exam Type: No Exam

In fall 2020, the United States is running a nationwide, real-time, high-stakes experiment to see what
happens when you put digital educational and related technologies into the home environments of almost
every young person in the country. Even before this emergency immersion into remote learning for
primary and secondary schools, kids and teens have been at the vanguard of the twenty-first century
transformation toward living networked lives within networked institutions. Childrens and adolescents
openness to and facility with new and emerging digital technologies creates a sense of community that
transcends physical and other traditional institutional boundaries, as well as a sense of self that is highly
individualized. For instance, a child in a remote rural American town could play Minecraft with like-minded
peers the world over and become Internet famous for their YouTube videos of local cows dressed up as
Minecraft denizens. They could also become inspired by social justice activism on Twitter and be the first
person in town to put up a Black Lives Matter banner. The potential for new connections and new forms of
self-expression both online and off are essentially endless-as are the accompanying questions about
whether and how state and federal laws, regulations, and other institutional policies, norms, and values
interact with youth data privacy and other components of youth digital citizenship. For instance, what
happens to our hypothetical child if they are arrested for hanging their banner on government property
without a permit, and local law enforcement wants to search their social media accounts? This reading
group will look at youth digital privacy and digital citizenship more broadly in the context of three primary
institutions: (1) learning ecosystems, with a focus on the current mode of pandemic operation in K-12
public and private schools; (2) the justice system (including school disciplinary proceedings, interactions
with law enforcement, and court proceedings); and (3) family units (including nuclear, extended, foster,
group home, institutional, and homeless configurations). The group will identify, analyze, and challenge
the laws, regulations, policies, practices, and norms that enable or constrain the development of youth
data privacy and digital citizenship through diverse readings and dynamic discussion of these cutting-edge
topics.

Note: This reading group will meet every other week, starting on September 23 and ending on December
2.