Educating youth about the dark side of technology

Hi everyone. I’m an undergraduate university student looking at building a campaign to increase kids awareness of some of the negative aspects of technology. I’m starting off by contacting schools to send out a survey that asks various questions in relation to social media and Internet consumption. Next, I will collate this data and hopefully be able to run some workshops with classes. Finally, I would also like to interact with parents and teachers to raise their awareness too. At the moment I am targeting kids around 8-14 years old with my survey. If any of you are interested, I would love to hear your ideas on what you believe the most effective questions to ask would be, ways that I can make topics such as data analytics, targeted advertising, and attention mining more palatable for younger people, and general advice for beginning a campaign of this nature. Thanks in advance, and if you would like to know more or want to collaborate in any way, don’t hesitate to contact me!

I also created a logo if you have any feedback on that :slight_smile:

Welcome, Emily :slight_smile:

Do you know the work of Sherry Turkle? What you are doing sounds very much like what she did and wrote about in Alone Together: Why We Expect More of Technology and Less of Each Other.

Thanks so much for your suggestion. I’ll definitely read up about her!

Hi Emily,

I’m interested in the results of your survey. When I’ve been talking about this in school I’ve focused on the point that these kids are the product on most things they’re using, being traded and sold for ad revenue.

Replicating something like this could be interesting too. Good luck and keep us posted!

Hi Emily! I work in schools and am surprised at how many parents are giving their children too much technology. I am not sure if you have heard of Wait Until 8th; they might be helpful for you. Also, Common Sense Media has done a lot of research on use of tech; here is a great page to read: Take Action for Kids’ Digital Well-Being. There is so much research now out there to support your work in this field! Good luck.

I’ll definitely make another post once I collate the data and get it organised into a meaningful form. But yes its definitely not common knowledge that we are not the customers for the platforms we use, but advertising companies are! I will make sure to incorporate this message into the campaign

Thank you! This is very helpful :slight_smile:

Hi, I’m teaching digital citizenship to secondary school students, from 14 to 18 years old. Here I’m uploading the translated versions of my slides (I’m in Italy), maybe that could be helpful for you…


Wow thank you for this. It will help me immensely! If you wouldn’t mind me asking, how are you finding teaching this subject, and what sort of feedback have you received? I am very excited that you’ve decided to teach this to secondary students, and would love any comments you have on your journey :slight_smile:

You’re welcome. I’m happy it will help you, I’ll add more about algorithms and big data, cyberbully, etc. Actually I didn’t choose this subject at the beginning, it happened to be some hours left of ‘digital citizenship’ available for this year. I’m a software engineer but after a big crisis (of motivation too, I felt I was building always more stuff where there are already too much of them, and not pointing to the good direction), I wanted to try as a teacher. After I took the job, I didn’t know what to do, then I realised I could do more or less whatever I wanted (no program, notes, …), so I started searching around on the web and I found lots of good content, not that bleeding heart, moralistic stuff I usually find in italian (by the way eventually I found the TED presentation of Tristan Harris and this community). So I wrote these slides thinking that the students can actually understand everything, if well explained and exemplified. Feedbacks from them show me I was right (most of the times :slightly_smiling_face:), but consider that these students are only the ones who didn’t want to attend catholic religion classes. So they are just a few and several times already with particular mindset and parents, as I could see. Anyway it’s good to go cross-subject and cross-age to experiment some new stuff with them. Do you want to know something in particular?


This article provides a lot of pointers to CommonSense Media articles and tips on how you and your children can manage their social media better:

I’m planning to survey parents and kids in my class this fall about their media use. And to include in my parent communication at the beginning of the year some information about the effect of media violence and technology in general on children, particularly, unlimited and uncurated use of media. Students in my class, boys generally, increasingly are playing FPS games (First person shooter) at age 7-9. Meanwhile discipline problems are on the rise. Correlation? Not sure, but likely!

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@emily-painter I am all for what you are trying to do! Please hmu if you want to talk about digital wellness in teens! I am working on a project to achieve just that and if you want to collaborate please let me know!!

@emily-painter, I have been thinking about this a lot since I have two kids (ages 11 and 7). I believe the most effective way to get their attention is visual. Can we exchange some ideas on that, maybe?

How could the youth not perceive surveillance, they’re constantly inundated with screens they can’t get away from them? I give young people more credit than most. When I was young people still dumped all the garbage out the car into the street, you don’t see the same level of ignorance, and most teenagers now are into environment and good food etc which my age group wasn’t aware of or had access to then. They might fix everything, I think they are well aware of being tracked and made to think they are dependent on big inhumane tech. They are not that gullable.

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