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However, they are not called to testify in Congress to express what this means to them. Policy-makers learn through the research of think tanks, academics and parents’ testimonies.

But is this enough? Are youth being well represented in the discussions that affect their lives?

Listening is about making space for new perspectives to shape more equitable societies. And we believe that listening to youth is crucial in shaping policy and technology that potentially have tremendous – positive or negative – impact in this population’s lives.

Giving young people the opportunity to express themselves, and further, respecting their thoughts and ideas, is valuable for individual and social youth development. 

Youth should be involved in the decisions and discussions that will shape their future.

What is at stake? 

Youth are key stakeholders in shaping the future of the data economy and thus its governance. They should then not only be seen as a demographic to be consulted for product development, but also deeply listened when norms are being developed to regulate that technology. This demographic is one of the most connected ever. They are also the most vulnerable, be it for known risks of social media use and internet dependency, as victims of online abuses, or as disenfranchised data subjects.


Meanwhile, decisions that impact youth’s future remain monopolized by adults – either through corporations that develop technologies targeting them as users or through governments shaping the frameworks and rules that will dictate their relation with those technologies.


However, youth are rarely represented in either of those spaces and the gap between decision-makers and youth is particularly pronounced in the data realm. Moreover, existing vocabulary around data governance is poorly explained and tools for consultation remain hermetic and not fit for reaching young people.


Including youth’s voices in discussions and decision-making is crucial to ensuring that the data economy is truly equitable and that the value of data is unlocked for all.

The lack of youth participation in the data economy has led to both policies and data-driven technologies being designed, developed, implemented and monitored without the voices of the youth. Youth are dealing with issues that range from serious mental health challenges to cyberbullying and the frustration that comes from a generational gap in the decisions that affect them directly.


These are some of the issues that derive from the data economy and that are affecting youth most pressingly:


Digital addiction and mental heatlh

Youth are concerned about the addictive nature of digital technologies and the impact on their mental health and well-being. There is a need to promote responsible use of technology, digital well-being, and mental health support related to excessive data consumption and screen time.

Cybersecurity and online safety

Youth are concerned about cybersecurity and online safety, including issues such as cyber threats, identity theft, online harassment, and bullying.

Privacy and data security

Youth care about the privacy and security of their personal data, including their online activities, social media usage, and other digital interactions. Some are concerned about the exploitation of their data by companies and organizations for targeted advertising, data profiling, and surveillance.

Data discrimination and bias

Youth are concerned about the potential for data discrimination and bias in decision-making processes, including hiring, lending, and other areas where data-driven algorithms and automated systems are used.

Future of work and automation

Youth are about the impact of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) on the job market and the economy and thus the potential for job displacement and the need for new skills and education to adapt to the changing landscape of work driven by data and technology.

Environmental impact of data economy

With the rise of environmental concerns and youth around the globe advocating for the environment’s protection, some youth in the US are concerned about the environmental impact of the data economy, including issues such as data centers' energy consumption, electronic waste, and carbon footprint.


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