The Berkman Center for Internet & Society and Youth and Media released a new ebook “Digitally Connected: Global Perspectives on Youth and Digital Media,” a first-of-its kind collection of essays that offers reflections from diverse perspectives on youth experiences with digital media and with focus on the Global South.

In this unique ebook, more than 30 academics, practitioners, government officials, tech industry representatives and activists team up with 25 youth contributors to share their views and opinions about digital technologies and the impact the Internet has on young people’s lives. Collectively, the contributors address a series of big questions related to youth and digital media by exploring key topics such as safety and wellbeing; identity, privacy and reputation; skills, literacies, and cultures of learning; creativity; innovation and entrepreneurship; participation and civic engagement; and youth participation and policy.

“By making these diverse reflections and youth contributions available to the public, we hope to continue and further stimulate the global conversation about both the challenges and opportunities children and youth face online,” said Urs Gasser, executive director of the Berkman Center and the book’s co-editor.

The ebook is an output of Digitally Connected, an initiative incubated by the Berkman Center in collaboration with UNICEF that brings together a network of people from around the world who, together, are addressing the challenges and opportunities children and youth encounter in the digital environment.

“The heart and soul of Digitally Connected is this amazing group of people from all around the globe. Together we aspire to make the Internet an even better place and experience for all children and youth,” said Sandra Cortesi, director of Youth and Media and the book’s co-editor.

Digitally Connected was launched in April 2014 at a first-of-its-kind international symposium on children, youth, and digital media co-hosted by the Berkman Center and UNICEF, in collaboration with PEW Internet, EU Kids Online, the Internet Society (ISOC), the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI), and  This event was followed by “Conectados al Sur,” a regional (Latin America and Caribbean) symposium on child and youth digital citizenship co-hosted by Argentina’s Ministry of Justice and Human Rights through the National Directorate for Personal Data Protection, UNICEF Argentina (with the support of the Division of Communication at UNICEF headquarters), and the Berkman Center. The goal of both events was to debate the challenges and opportunities youth encounter online, map and explore the global and regional state of relevant research and practice, share and discuss global insights and ideas, and encourage collaboration between participants across regions and continents. With a particular focus on voices and issues from the Global South, the events addressed topics such as inequitable access, risks to safety and privacy, skills and digital literacy, spaces for participation, civic engagement, and innovation.

The ebook is available for download at no cost on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) at

Highlights from the 2014 Digitally Connected symposium at Harvard Law School

Roundtable discussion: on Risky Behaviors and Safety

Mia Doces of the Center for Children summarizes her group’s discussion about the potential risks and harm for youth and children online. As a key takeaway from the conversation, she mentions the need for using data from research, instead of only focusing attention on facts presented by the media, to determine the real harm for youth and outline action steps.

Breakout session: Researching Participation and Civic Engagement

Eric Gordon of the Engagement Game Lab (EGL) at Emerson College summarizes the discussion his group had about whether or not youth participation and civic engagement can be measured. Along with his group, he de-constructed the notion of engagement and rejected the assumption that it always brings benefits for youth. As a takeaway from the discussion, he highlights the many meanings of engagement.

Breakout session: Children, Youth, Digital Media, Health and Well-Being

Claire McCarthy of Boston Children’s Hospital explains the discussion her group had about the impact of technology on the health and well-being of youth. She mentions that people working with technology and youth must find an effective way to educate youth about digital practices. Under this framework, she states that support and collaboration from various stakeholders is key to shifting negative usage of technology into something that generates benefits for youth.