Research for Global Development

The Impact of Digital Technology and Social Media on Young People in Kenya


Countries: Kenya

Challenge

The explosive rise of social media and digital technologies is exposing young people to unprecedented opportunities and risks. UNICEF is particularly concerned about the impact of these new technologies on young people from a child’s rights perspective. Increasingly, certain rights enshrined in the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) – from the right to express views and be heard to the right to education and protection from all forms of violence and abuse – are being realized or put at risk with the advance of digital technologies. As part of UNICEF’s wider program into issues of Digital Citizenship and Safety, they commissioned InterMedia to conduct a study exploring these issues among youth and young people in Kenya.

Approach

In close collaboration with UNICEF and their Steering Committee partners (UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre; and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University), InterMedia designed an in-depth hybrid quantitative-qualitative method in order to understand the broad trends and underlying nuances of Kenyan young people’s access to, use of, and experiences with digital and social media from their perceptions and in their own language. The study involved two-part Digital Youth Clinics in four locations in Kenya (Kisii, Kitui and two neighborhoods in Nairobi) and included 120 active 12-17 year-old users of digital and social media.

Insight

Young people in Kenya are much like their counterparts around the globe:  digital and social media are an integral part of their lives, giving them a way to communicate, connect and learn on their own terms.  Many use digital and social media in a private space that they often lack in their offline, adult-controlled lives. While many of the young people engage in risky behaviors, they have low awareness of the risks involved. These risks are exacerbated by the lack of digital know-how among parents and educators; adults’ attempts to control what they don’t understand; and the ease of access to entertainment and pornography compared to positive uses of technologies for education and empowerment. These findings are helping UNICEF to craft policies, programs and outreach strategies to maximize the opportunities for youth and minimize the risks inherent in digital media.

InterMedia

The Impact of Digital Technology and Social Media on Young People in Kenya


Countries: Kenya

Challenge

The explosive rise of social media and digital technologies is exposing young people to unprecedented opportunities and risks. UNICEF is particularly concerned about the impact of these new technologies on young people from a child’s rights perspective. Increasingly, certain rights enshrined in the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) – from the right to express views and be heard to the right to education and protection from all forms of violence and abuse – are being realized or put at risk with the advance of digital technologies. As part of UNICEF’s wider program into issues of Digital Citizenship and Safety, they commissioned InterMedia to conduct a study exploring these issues among youth and young people in Kenya.

Approach

In close collaboration with UNICEF and their Steering Committee partners (UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre; and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University), InterMedia designed an in-depth hybrid quantitative-qualitative method in order to understand the broad trends and underlying nuances of Kenyan young people’s access to, use of, and experiences with digital and social media from their perceptions and in their own language. The study involved two-part Digital Youth Clinics in four locations in Kenya (Kisii, Kitui and two neighborhoods in Nairobi) and included 120 active 12-17 year-old users of digital and social media.

Insight

Young people in Kenya are much like their counterparts around the globe:  digital and social media are an integral part of their lives, giving them a way to communicate, connect and learn on their own terms.  Many use digital and social media in a private space that they often lack in their offline, adult-controlled lives. While many of the young people engage in risky behaviors, they have low awareness of the risks involved. These risks are exacerbated by the lack of digital know-how among parents and educators; adults’ attempts to control what they don’t understand; and the ease of access to entertainment and pornography compared to positive uses of technologies for education and empowerment. These findings are helping UNICEF to craft policies, programs and outreach strategies to maximize the opportunities for youth and minimize the risks inherent in digital media.

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