Jayne manages a few projects working with children and youth in Uganda. She’s aware of COVID-19 and the likelihood of some form of a lockdown coming which will impact her projects. As she works with her teams to determine how to shift the projects to operate remotely and online, she talks of a number of issues they need to consider:
First Principles: 1. We must assume not all households we are working with have a device or access to one that is connected to the internet. Therefore, we need to think about a multiple channels for delivery so no one is left behind. 2. We must assume there are pockets of illiteracy i.e. not every child, youth, or parent will know how to use a digital device or the internet AND not all of them will know how to operate online wisely and safely. 3. Let’s never forget the long term – any information put online today will be accessible 10 years from now, therefore let’s be cautious about putting online or discussing any information that can identify the children and the youth.
Pushing Information Out: Always use multiple channels – ideally online and offline channels. Radio can often be a good ‘offline’, local option, but remember it still requires a device to listen. When we are pushing out information to a ‘focus group’ on sensitive topics, let’s proceed cautiously. Remember, when we do this online in a targeted manner (e.g. How COVID-19 impacts those lives with HIV), we are ‘identifying’ people.
Collecting Information and Interacting with people: Before collecting any information about someone, we need to check their awareness and understanding of why we need the data, what we will do with it, with whom we’ll share it, why we’ll share it, if and when it will be deleted, and so on. Ideally collecting information from people and interacting with them about sensitive topics should be done through ‘secure communication platforms‘. Again we need to determine online and offline options here, but never use Facebook, Messenger, or even Whatsapp.
Read more and Ramp up our digital literacy efforts. For us to do more digitally, we all need to read more and discuss digital benefits and harms more. We must help those we seek to serve to live wisely in a digital world, in fact, we must join them in learning how to do this. Here are a few resources that can help us:
- Responsible Data for Children
- A UNICEF Primer about Children’s Digital Privacy
- A wide selection of resources from Harvard about youth and the digital life.