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Fall 2023 Reading Group

Youth, Privacy, and Digital Citizenship

Prerequisites: None

Exam Type: No Exam

In spring 2020-spring 2021, the United States ran a nationwide, real-time, high-stakes experiment to see what happened 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 were at the vanguard of the twenty-first century transformation toward living networked lives within networked institutions. Children’s 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 recent 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 on the following dates: 9/13, 9/27, 10/11, 10/25, 11/8, 11/29