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Researching Children’s Rights Globally in the Digital Age

Challenge 3: Research contexts – priorities, training and impact

This session explores the importance of recognising how context shapes ICT use, and the lives of children more generally. How do we recognise the particular meanings and practices that make sense in different parts of the world? And how can we navigate the terrain between the published, typically Western, research literature, and the research questions, concepts and priorities that may arise in the global South? Two key areas of risk the speakers consider are: a) applying the Western research model to global cultures, and b) using alternative, community based and culturally relevant approaches.

Chair: Jelena Zajeganovic, Project Officer for Adolescents, UNICEF Serbia


- Dorothea Kleine
- Joe Khalil
- Surya Av
- Preetam Maloor

1) Click play on the Soundcloud window to start an audio recording of each presentation
2) Advance PPT slides manually in the SlideShare window

Dorothea Kleine
Director, ICT4D Centre, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK

Dorothea Kleine discusses the importance of understanding the contexts in which children use technologies, especially in large-scale surveys. She urges a shift from thinking of children as objects of inquiry to co-creators of meaning, and to develop participatory models that involve children and young people at each stage. She also emphasises the importance of involving locals in the research process so as to get a better sense of local context, a higher sense of ownership and improved chance of project viability and sustainability after the instigators leave.

Joe Khalil
Professor, Northwestern University, Qatar: A perspective from the Arabic Gulf and the Levant

Joe Khalil compares research and intervention priorities and challenges in the Middle East. He describes the two parts of the Arab world, the Arabian Gulf and the Levant, in terms of their differing priorities. In both regions, research is motivated by political imperatives and democratic potential, and is implemented by Western and Arab-based NGOs, and local governments. In the Levant region, research priorities focus on developing skills to contribute to economic development. In the Arabian Gulf, research prioritises safeguarding cultural values (mainly religious) and developing technology tools for children.


Surya Av
Head, IMRB Social & Rural Research Institute (SRI), India

Surya Av addresses the challenge of information about children’s internet use in India. Of great concern is the way social norms restrict relationships to (adult) approved circles, potentially limiting peer support when using social media, and leaving upsetting encounters unreported. These risks are heightened by widespread internet use outside the home, particularly in cafes, where children have easy access to content like pornography, violence etc. Statistically representative research is challenging given the diverse cultural, geographic, economic and population density contexts of India.

Preetam Maloor
Strategy and Policy Advisor, International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Geneva: Setting global targets on child online protection towards a results-based approach

Preetam Maloor discusses the Connect 2020 agenda, an ITU initiative that identifies ICTs as a key enabler for development and includes child online protection as an agenda priority. ITU provides global guidelines for cross-national comparative measures of ICTs. Maloor describes a shifting focus from isolated projects toward results-based approaches in response to the renegotiation of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. This shift involves building a multi-stakeholder network and identifying tangible goals with dates for achievement.


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