The project drew upon participatory research and design methodologies that emerged from a methodology design workshop with two Sydney, Australia-based members of the Young and Well CRC's Youth Brains Trust. Then, partner organisations were recruited through a call for Expressions of Interest (in English, French, and Spanish) sent out via the website, email distribution networks, and social media channels of the Digitally Connected Network and the Young and Well CRC. Drawing on the methodology design workshop, the research team produced a project resource kit for partner organisations; it provided ethical standards relating to the recruitment for and conduct of the workshops with children. Available in English, French, and Spanish, it also contained detailed explanations of the suggested workshop activities and details on how to submit content back to the research team.
In July and August 2014, having been recruited by the participating organisations, the children took part in workshops (held in Arabic, English, French, Italian, Malay, Portuguese, Spanish, and Turkish) to discuss the opportunities and risks associated with digital media. During the workshops, the children - hailing from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, France, Ghana, Italy, Kenya, Malaysia, Nigeria, Philippines, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, and the United States of America - were asked to reflect upon the extent to which they used digital media and information and communication technologies (ICTs) in their everyday lives. They:
- drew their own daily, weekly, or monthly "technology use timeline" in which they outlined their digital media use and related rights. To make this activity as inclusive as possible, workshop facilitators were asked to use a broad definition of media and technology so that children would be encouraged to also map their mass media engagements (radio, television, newspapers, and so on). The children were then asked to identify the challenges and opportunities associated with their media and technology use and map these onto their timeline. In the final stage of the activity, participants were encouraged to identify how their technology practices intersected, or not, with their rights by cutting out the relevant rights from a template provided by the workshop facilitator and matching them with the challenges and opportunities identified on their timelines. Children were also invited to invent their own rights, where they felt the existing rights did not capture their experience, and stick them on their timelines.
- responded on camera to a series of "vox pop" questions on the opportunities and challenges digital media present in enacting their rights. These vox pops could be filmed on a digital camera, flip-camera, or mobile phone. Where these technologies were not available, or where participants were reluctant to be filmed, children were asked to write short written responses to the questions (e.g., "What is the biggest challenge digital media pose to your ability, and the ability of those around you, to live well?")
- chose and explored a dimension of their rights in the digital age using one of 6 mediums (video, audio, photographs, drawing/painting, flip book, or written response). One example of a guiding question: "How does digital media enable you to enact change in your life and/or your community?"
The workshop resulted in 3 project outputs:
- A short film that documents children's insights into and experiences of their rights in the digital age using footage crowdsourced from children via the project's partner organisations.
- A scholarly report analysing the content generated by children who participated in the project in relation to the existing scholarship on children's rights in the digital age. [See related summaries, below.]
- A set of "digital champion" stories showcasing how children, or organisations working with children, are using technology to enhance the rights of children in different locations around the world. (See these stories, beginning on page 52 of this document "Children's Rights in the Digital Age: A Download from Children Around the World [PDF]".
The research team then conducted a content analysis of the children's timelines to identify key themes, commonalities, and differences. In conducting these analyses, the research team was very mindful that the project's key aim was to keep children's views at the core of the reporting.
Findings were then presented at the Day of General Discussion, a meeting focusing on digital media and child rights that was convened by the Committee on the Rights of the Child on September 12 2014. To read about the results, see the Related Summaries section, below.