Author: Linda Raftree, December 5 2013       Migration has been a part of the human experience since the dawn of time, and populations have always moved in search of resources and better conditions. Today, unaccompanied children and youth are an integral part of national and global migration patterns, often leaving their place of origin due to violence, conflict, abuse, or other rights violations, or simply to seek better opportunities for themselves.

It is estimated [The Rights of Children, Youth and Women in the Context of Migration, 2011, PDF format] that 33 million (or some 16 percent) of the total migrant population today is younger than age 
20. Child and adolescent migrants make up a significant proportion of the total population of migrants in Africa (28 percent), Asia (21 percent), Oceania (11 percent), Europe (11 percent), and the Americas (10 percent).

The issue of migration is central to the current political debate as well as to the development discussion, especially in conversations about the "post 2015" agenda [Youth Migration, Equity & Inequalities, Post-2015]. Though many organizations are working to improve children’s well-being in their home communities, prevention work with children and youth is not likely to end migration. Civil society organizations, together with children and youth, government, community members, and other stakeholders can help make migration safer and more productive for those young people who do end up on the move.

As the debate around migration rages, access and use of ICTs is expanding exponentially around the globe. For this reason Plan International USA and the Oak Foundation felt that it was an opportune time to take stock of the ways that ICTs are being used in the child and youth migration process.

Our new report, "Modern Mobility: the role of ICTs in child and youth migration" takes a look at:

  • how children and youth are using ICTs to prepare for migration; to guide and facilitate their journey; to keep in touch with families; to connect with opportunities for support and work; and to cope with integration, forced repatriation or continued movement; and
  • how civil society organizations are using ICTs to facilitate and manage their work; to support children and youth on the move; and to communicate and advocate for the rights of child and youth migrants.

In the Modern Mobility paper, we identify and provide examples of three core ways that child and youth migrants are using new technologies during the different phases of the migration process:

  • communicating and connecting with families and friends
  • accessing information
  • accessing services

We then outline seven areas where we found CSOs are using ICTs in their work with child and youth migrants, and we offer some examples:


Charat: CSOs' use of ICT

Ways that CSOs are using ICTs in their work with child and youth migrants

Though we were able to identify some major trends in how children and youth themselves use ICTs and how organizations are experimenting with ICTs in programming, we found little information on the impact that ICTs or ICT-enabled programs and services have on migrating children and youth, whether positive or negative. Most CSO practitioners that we talked with said that they had very little awareness of how other organizations or initiatives similar to their own were using ICTs. Most also said they did not know where to find orientation or guidance on good practice in the use of ICTs in child-centered programming, ICTs in protection work (aside from protecting children from online risks), or use of ICTs in work with children and young people at various stages of migration. Most CSO practitioners we spoke with were interested in learning more, sharing experiences, and improving their capacities to use ICTs in their work.

Based on Plan Finland's "ICT-Enabled Development Guide" (authored by Hannah Beardon), the report provides CSOs with a checklist to support thinking around the strategic use of ICTs in general. ICT-enabled development checklist developed by Hannah Beardon for Plan International:

  1. Context Analysis: what is happening with ICT (for development) in the country or region?
  2. Defining the need: what problems can ICT help overcome? what opportunities can it create?
  3. Choosing a strategy: what kind of ICT4D is needed? direct? internal? strategic?
  4. Undertaking a participatory communications assessment: who will benefit from this use of ICT and how?
  5. Choosing the technology: what ICTs/applications are available to meet this need or goal?
  6. Adjusting the content: can people understand and use the information provided for and by the ICTs?
  7. Building and using capacity: what kind of support will people need to use and benefit from the ICT, and to innovate around it?
  8. Monitoring progress: how do you know if the ICT is helping meet the development goal or need?
  9. Keeping it going: how can you manage risks and keep up with changes?
  10. Learning from each other: what has been done before, and what have you learned that others could use?


We also offer a list of key considerations for practitioners who wish to incorporate new technologies into their work, including core questions to ask about access, age, capacity, conflict, connectivity, cost, disability, economic status, electricity, existing information ecosystems, gender, information literacy, language, literacy, power, protection, privacy, sustainability, and user-involvement.

Our recommendation for taking this area forward is to develop greater awareness and capacity among CSOs regarding the potential uses and risks of ICTs in work with children and youth on the move by:
1.    Establishing an active community of practice on ICTs and children and youth on the move.
2.    Mapping and sharing existing projects and programs.
3.    Creating a guide or toolbox on good practice for ICTs in work with children and youth on the move.
4.    Further providing guidance on how ICTs can help “normal” programs to reach out to and include children and youth on the move.
5.    Further documentation and development of an evidence base.
6.    Sharing and distributing this report for discussion and action.

Download the Modern Mobility report here.

[Linda Raftree's email for comments:] We’d love comments and feedback, and information about examples or documentation/evidence that we did not come across while writing the report!