Why young people are the most effective storytellers of their experience with data


Datasphere Initiative


Join Our Newsletter

Subscribe to the Datasphere Pulse for updates on data governance news and activities.

After being named one of the winners of the Omidyar Network Future of Data Challenge, the Datasphere Initiative launched #Youth4OurDataFuture on August 30, 2023.

Young people are the most effective storytellers and witnesses to their experience with data. Only through engaging with youth directly can we understand the diversity and depth of youth experiences with digital technologies and their views on data governance. However, while more connected to data-driven technologies than ever before, youth voices are absent from decision-making on data in local, national, and global fora.

The Datasphere Initiative hosted a series of online meet-ups to co-ideate with young leaders and activists to understand the data policy issues of most relevance to young people.

We would like to ensure the #Youth4OurDataFuture project not only shares the voices of young people in policy power centers but is actually a result of co-ideation and collaboration with youth to better understand how data and data policy is impacting their lives,” said Mariana Rozo-Paz, Policy & Research Associate, Datasphere Initiative.

As part of the #Youth4OurDataFuture preparatory stages, the Datasphere Initiative has convened a project Advisory Group consisting of 10 young advocates and professionals from 8 countries working with youth. During its first meeting on July 13, the group identified best practices for engaging youth in digital policy initiatives and shared relevant projects and work that could be showcased as part of #Youth4OurDataFuture.

Discussions were further expanded through a workshop with youth initiatives such as the Youth IGF, Youth for Privacy, some of the Data Values Advocates, and others in a meet-up on developing engagement campaigns to raise awareness of the data policy issues through social media.

Through these workshops, important considerations for designing youth-focused campaigns and initiatives were underscored many of which the Datasphere Initiative will be taking up throughout the #Youth4OurDataFuture project including: 

  • Co-designing policy initiatives and communication strategies with young people to ensure campaigns are meaningful and relevant to diverse audiences.
  • Considering the communities youth are coming from (different cultures, social economic backgrounds, etc.) – there’s no one size fits all approach, and addressing bias is an ongoing task.
  • Building partnerships and identifying collaborators from youth initiatives to support work and avoid stretching limited resources.
  • Avoiding the tendency to pre-empt reactions when surveying youth but ensuring questions and consultations are open and neutral.

A recent highlight of the #Youth4OurDataFuture preparatory sessions was a workshop the Datasphere Initiative held as part of the Youth for Privacy Data Values Bootcamp on August 2, 2023. The Workshop “Shaping outreach strategies: #Youth4OurDataFuture” provided an opportunity for students to learn about and contribute to #Youth4OurDataFuture and share ideas on how best to amplify youth experiences and insights on how data is shaping their lives. The workshop discussed engagement opportunities and offered a “hands-on session” where participants co-designed #Youth4OurDataFuture social media strategies to support youth participation in policy dialogues on data.

Students shared a wide range of data policy issues for the project to explore. Regarding privacy and data, participants noted that young people are often unaware of why social media platforms show them particular content. At the same time, understanding how young people see data collection from their personal devices or even through search engines was also recognized as important. On technology use, students encouraged discussion around the positive side of technology, how video games can be used as tools to deal with daily stressors and the fact that in some parts of the world (notably North America), the lack of walkability in neighborhoods can play a role in increased youth screen time.

While the focus is often on the amount of time young people spend on screens, less attention is paid to the amount of content young people are being exposed to. Digital literacy was underscored as an area needing more attention and proactive insights, as many young people are not equipped to handle the risks but also the opportunities digital technologies can offer. Mental health, cyberbullying, and the utility of online tools to deal with these issues were also noted as worthwhile topics to explore in relation to data governance and young people’s digital literacy.

Starting in September 2023, #Youth4OurDataFuture aims to develop awareness-raising and learning campaigns, to showcase the voices and experiences of youth from the United States on how data shapes their lives. Results and learnings will be shared to bridge gaps between youth and decision-makers through structured advocacy and outreach.

  • Learn more about the project here

Join Our Newsletter

Subscribe to the Datasphere Pulse for updates on data governance news and activities.

The Datasphere Initiative is a global network of stakeholders fostering a holistic and innovative approach to data governance to build agile frameworks to responsibly unlock the value of data for all.

@2024. Datasphere Initiative. All rights reserved
Privacy Policy