Children, Technology and Social Values: Enabling Children's Voices in a Pluralistic World

Richard B. Hill, American Society for Information Science and Technology
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
ASIST 2009 Proceedings of the 72nd ASIS&T Annual Meeting Volume 46 2009 Thriving on Diversity - Information Opportunities in a Pluralistic World, 2009, pp. 1 - 8
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The landscape of childhood in the 21st century increasingly involves technology. As information and communication technologies (ICTs) become ubiquitous in homes, schools, libraries, and play spaces, children are plugged-in and online with greater frequency and at a younger age. Concerns regarding new and emerging technologies like the immersive Internet, mobile phones, and social networking sites often lead to highly charged, emotive responses aimed at reducing the risks associated with such technologies. These reactions focus our attention on children in the role of victimized consumer, and privilege the perspective of a single stakeholder, the parent. This desire to protect young technology consumers runs contrary to the participatory techniques intended to give greater voice to users in the design and development of technology. A broader, more enlightened perspective on the role of technology in the lives of children recognizes the multiple roles, stakeholders, and value propositions which affect these interactions with ICTs. Rather than casting children in the limited role of consumer of technology, participatory and value-sensitive design techniques afford children the role of tester, evaluator, appropriator, remediator, co-designer, or co-investigator. Creating and sustaining a pluralistic society means providing sufficient opportunities for the voices of children in the decisions that affect their lives and their futures.
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