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Profiles

Jasmina Byrne

Chief (Former title)

Jasmina oversees activities across thematic portfolios for the Foresight and Policy team.

Publications

“It empowers to attend.” Understanding how participants in the Eastern Cape of South Africa experienced a parent support programme: A qualitative study
Publication

“It empowers to attend.” Understanding how participants in the Eastern Cape of South Africa experienced a parent support programme: A qualitative study

Parenting interventions can dramatically reduce violence against children and improve a child’s future. Yet in the past, research has mainly focused on young children in high-income countries, and most of the research has only used quantitative methodology. By contrast, this qualitative study focuses on teenagers and their caregivers who attended a parenting programme in South Africa, contributing to a small but growing body of research on parent support programmes for teenagers in low and middle-income countries. The research examines the Sinovuyo Teen Parenting programme, which was developed and tested between 2012 and 2016 in South Africa. The main qualitative study was carried out in the last year (2015–2016) and is the focus of this paper. It complements a cluster randomized controlled trial. This qualitative study captures the experiences of teenagers and parents who attended the Sinovuyo Teen Parenting programme in 2015. Importantly, the study gives an insight into how the caregivers and teenagers changed as a result of participating in the study. Findings show that both caregivers and teenagers valued the programme and their participation fostered better family relations and reduced violence at home. Their views are important for practitioners, programme implementers and researchers working in violence prevention and child and family welfare. More research is needed, however, to show whether these changes can be sustained.
Policy and service delivery implications for the implementation and scale-up of an adolescent parent support programme: a qualitative study in Eastern Cape, South Africa
Publication

Policy and service delivery implications for the implementation and scale-up of an adolescent parent support programme: a qualitative study in Eastern Cape, South Africa

This paper examines a four-year evidence-based study on an adolescent parenting support pilot programme known as Sinovuyo1 Teen. The parenting support programme aims to reduce violence inside and outside the home in a poor rural community in Eastern Cape, South Africa. This is one of the four working papers looking at data from a qualitative study that complemented a cluster randomized controlled trial (RCT). Both the study and the trial were conducted during the last year of the parenting support programme. The research question was: What are the policy and service delivery requirements and implications for scaling up the Sinovuyo Teen Parenting programme in South Africa and beyond? The primary data for this paper were collected through semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions (FGDs) with key stakeholders, including programme implementers. Thematic analysis identified four themes, three of which are presented in this paper: programme model; programme fit in a service delivery system; and programme in local cultural and policy context. Although the findings show the Sinovuyo Teen Parenting programme was positively viewed, if it were to be scaled up and sustainable, the intervention would need to be grounded in established policies and systems.
Relevance, Implementation and Impact of the Sinovuyo Teen Parenting Programme in South Africa
Publication

Relevance, Implementation and Impact of the Sinovuyo Teen Parenting Programme in South Africa

This report summarizes research findings on the impact of the Sinovuyo Teen Parenting programme piloted in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, between November 2014 and September 2016. The research consists of a qualitative study on the programme facilitators, conducted in 2014; and a ramdomized control trial with a complementary qualitative study, which was conducted between 2015 and 2016. The quantitative findings, detailed here, sum up responses provided by programme participants one month after programme completion. The participants also provided inputs five to nine months later; those inputs are published separately. Besides highlighting the impact of the parenting programme, the report describes the perceptions and experiences of participants and programme implementers. The report also discusses key policy and service delivery implications that need to be considered in taking the programme to scale in South Africa and beyond.
Delivering a Parenting Programme in Rural South Africa: The Local Child and Youth Care Worker Experience
Publication

Delivering a Parenting Programme in Rural South Africa: The Local Child and Youth Care Worker Experience

A pre-post study examining the effectiveness of a parenting support programme in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, showed reductions in child abuse, child delinquency, parent and child depression, parenting stress and substance use. It also showed improvements in parental supervision, positive parenting and social support. In addition to the pre-post study, a qualitative enquiry was conducted with the programme facilitators. This paper explores the experiences and perception of local child and youth care workers, who were trained to deliver the parenting programme in vulnerable, semi-rural communities. The purpose of this publication is to make recommendations on how to improve the programme for scale-up, in South Africa and beyond.

Blogs

Challenges of parental responsibility in the digital age: a global perspective
Blog

Challenges of parental responsibility in the digital age: a global perspective

Children everywhere are gaining access to the internet – most often via a mobile phone. In many places, too, parents are feeling challenged in their competence, role and authority. Distinctively, internet access is bringing children access also to valued sources of knowledge and connection that their parents may lack. How are parents responding?A digital parenting divideResearch in high income countries points to a shift away from restrictive forms of parental mediation such as banning the technology or telling their children off when a problem occurs. Instead, it seems parents are increasingly using enabling forms of mediation such as sharing some online experiences with their children and guiding them in the use of privacy settings, advice services and critical evaluation of online content and behaviour. This shift is influenced by parents’ own growing experience with and expertise in using digital media. It’s also the outcome of several years’ worth of multi-stakeholder efforts to raise parental awareness and encourage their engagement, often led by governments and child welfare organisations.1024"]Peer advocates communicate with their friends on phone in Nyalenda neighbourhood in the city of Kisumu, Kenya. Their organization, Sauti Skika, is an initiative for and by young people living with HIV, to ensure the voices of young people and adolescents living with HIV are heard.But in middle and low income countries, it seems that parents favour restrictive mediation. This is partly because some cultures are more authoritarian in their parenting style (especially in relation to daughters). It’s partly because, in the absence of supportive resources, anxious parents feel their only recourse is to protect their children by limiting their access. It’s also because the wider public debate has yet to embrace a conception of children as active citizens and, therefore now, also as digital citizens.Even talking of parents – a common target of awareness-raising actions in the global North – is not straightforward as many children in developing countries are being brought up by relatives, often grandparents. For example, in Africa and, to a lesser extent in Latin America and the Caribbean, children are much more likely to live with either one or neither of their parents than children in other regions. Factors such as migration, illness, parental death often mean that parents and caregivers are left with few resources and insufficient time to help children with their digital skills. Schools are also challenged: in the least developed countries school attendance is low, pupil/teacher ratios are high, and overcrowded classrooms and untrained teachers are commonplace. It seems fair to conclude that in many countries, children lack a supportive and/or informed adult in their lives who can teach them to navigate the internet safely, or offer support when needed....the wider public debate has yet to embrace a conception of children as active citizens and, therefore now, also as digital citizens.New research findingsUnderstanding the real constraints families and children face in the digital world is the first step towards finding effective strategies that both parents and children can use to maximise opportunities and minimise risks. We are currently tracking the activities and experiences of children and parents in the digital age as part of our research project Global Kids Online - a multinational research collaboration of the UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), and the EU Kids Online network in partnership with researchers and UNICEF country offices from all over the world. Working within a child rights framework, the aim is to generate robust evidence that can stimulate debate and inform policy and practice regarding children’s internet use in diverse countries.Gabriela Vlad, 17, (Left) uses her phone to speak with her mother at the dinner table at the home of her foster mother Tatiana Gribincea (right) in the village of Porumbeni on the outskirts of Chisinau in Moldova, Monday 16 October 2017. Her biological mother has gone abroad to find employment.In addition to asking children what they do online, how often and for how long, what skills they have and risks they face, we ask them who they turn to for support if they experience something negative online. Strikingly, the majority of children from the seven countries presented below would turn to friends first, to parents second, and rarely to teachers or other professionals. For parents this is broadly positive news. Although on average, parents’ level of digital skill is equivalent to that of a 14 year old child, as our research from Bulgaria, Montenegro and South Africa shows. What seems to count more is that children trust their parents’ ability to provide guidance and support.It’s notable that children in European countries are more likely to tell a parent if they experience a problem online, than in other parts of the world. Perhaps this reflects a more encouraging emphasis on enabling rather than restriction among European parents. Certainly it suggest the need for  greater investment in support and guidance of parents in the global South. More worrying is children’s apparent lack of trust in teachers and professionals. This makes us wonder if they are even available to children to the degree we would want them to be, and further, how confident children may be that these professionals are able to provide the right advice.Note: 9-17 year olds in all countries except 13-17 year olds in Argentina. Also, samples in Serbia and the Philippines were small pilot surveys; in South Africa a convenience sample was used; in all other countries, the sample is nationally representative. For more methodological details, see www.globalkidsonline.net/resultsHow to support parents to support children?If parents’ primary method of protecting children is through restricting access, this can be effective in keeping children safe, but it carries costs as regards children’s opportunities online. The restrictive approach can potentially undermine children's opportunity to build digital skills and resilience in ways that will help them face and manage risky experiences in the future. So what advice can we give parents? What are the roles and skills they need to have in the digital world? Do parenting principles and practices we used before the technological boom still apply?In 2007 the World Health Organization (WHO) developed a framework that examines key dimensions of parenting and parental roles that positively affect adolescent well-being:Connection (building a positive, stable, emotional bond between parent and child)Behaviour control (including supervision and guidance of children’s actions within a trusting relationship)Respect for individuality of the child, especially as an adolescentModelling appropriate behaviour (since children identify with and emulate their parents)Provision and protection (by parents and also the wider community) Ten years on, this framework translates well in the digital era. Take modelling of appropriate behaviour, for example. If the parent does not put down a phone or a tablet, will the child mimic this behaviour? If a parent uses restrictive mediation and censorship, how does this lead to respect for individuality? Ideally, parents would be confident in drawing on their available personal and cultural resources and, to some extent, the principles of positive parenting, when facing the new challenges linked to children’s internet use. Ideally, too, even if tempted to prevent or restrict children’s digital activities for fear of the harms that may result, they would be mindful that some activities may be important to their children’s present and future opportunities – to learn, gain information, work and engage in their community. So a balance must be sought, and this is indeed difficult to manage, for much will depend on the child and his or her particular circumstances.However, as internet use becomes more familiar, and more embedded in everyday life, parents are increasingly also digital natives. They often want to learn about the internet and what it can offer, for the benefit of themselves and their children. It is therefore important that stakeholders – from government and industry to schools and communities – make greater investments to aid parents in this effort, so that they can enable their children to learn and grow in the digital age.For more on parenting in relation to digital media.For more on Global Kids Online’s findings around the world.For more on children’s rights and wellbeing in the digital age, see State of the World's Children 2017 Sonia Livingstone OBE is Professor of Social Psychology in the Department of Media and Communications at London School of Economics and Political Science and Jasmina Byrne is child protection specialist with UNICEF Innocenti. Explore the UNICEF Innocenti research catalogue for new publications. Follow UNICEF Innocenti on Twitter and sign up for e-newsletters on any page of the UNICEF Innocenti website. NOTE: An earlier version of this was published as Livingstone, S., and Byrne, J. (2015) Challenges of parental responsibility in a global perspective. In Gasser, U. (Ed.), Digitally Connected: Global Perspectives on Youth and Digital Media (pp.26-29). Cambridge: Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University. We are also grateful to our colleagues in the Global Kids Online project.
The internet of opportunities: what children say
Blog

The internet of opportunities: what children say

"We grew up with the internet. I mean, the internet has always been here with us. The grown-ups are like 'Wow the internet appeared', while it is perfectly normal for us." -Boy, 15 years old, SerbiaWhen our research teams in Argentina, the Philippines, Montenegro, Serbia and South Africa, who are part of the new Global Kids Online initiative, set out to interview children about their use of the internet we expected to find wide spread use of the digital technologies for entertainment and communication. And indeed, it was hardly a surprise that a majority of children in our research countries visit social networking sites at least every week for communication and interaction with peers.In fact, qualitative and quantitative research in Argentina found that social networking sites are the primary means of communication, socialization and expression of adolescents today, and we might expect this to be the case for children in many parts of the world.The Internet is fun, children say. In South Africa, 96 per cent of child participants reported that they sometimes or always had fun when they went online.A student uses a mobile phone in a classroom at Oswaldo Lucas Mendes Public High School in Taiobeiras municipality in the Southeastern state of Minas Gerais, Brazil.But learning can also be fun, they say; in Montenegro children told us that learning online was much easier and more fun than learning from standard textbooks:"This is a smartphone time, and I am sure that no one would give advantage to book over the phone." -Girl, 14 years old, Montenegro.This sentiment seems to be shared by children on the other side of the ocean; in Argentina almost 80 per cent of teens said they use the internet to do homework or access educational content on a wide range of topics (maths, history, music, dance, cooking, etc.):"I wanted to learn to play the guitar and went online." said one boy, 15 years old. "I flunked math, so I watched a couple of vids where they explained what I had to study", said another. In addition, many use the internet to post images, videos or music online, and close to 40 per cent of children in Argentina published things on a website or wrote a blog in the last month.It is clear that access to and use of the internet can have beneficial if not transformative potential for children. As Frank La Rue, former UN special rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, stated in his address to the UN General Assembly in 2014, the internet not only enhances opportunities for communication and freedom of expression, but it can also serve as a tool to help children claim their other rights, including their right to education, freedom of expression, association and full participation in social, cultural and political life, and should therefore be recognized as an indispensable tool for children.While the discourse around children's rights in the digital age often centers on risks, which we acknowledge do exist and can potentially cause serious harm, children themselves seem to be more interested in the opportunities digital technologies bring.Another key opportunity that emerged in our work with children was the opportunity for participation online. Participation is one of the underlying principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, allowing children's voices to be heard in matters that affect them.It can provide opportunities for civic engagement and self-expression among those children and adolescents who do not necessarily have a voice in their communities.   It can help transcend barriers linked to gender and ability/disability and can allow children to learn about decisions and choices available to them.Social networking sites can bring a new sense of "community", one that is different from community defined by geography and one that goes beyond participation to also include social support.While talking to children about self-expression, learning and participation we found thatBetween 56-94 per cent of children learned something new online and between 23 and 45 per cent looked for health information onlineBetween a quarter to one third of children reported that they use the internet to talk to people from different backgrounds at least monthly, a helpful way to become more familiar with other countries, cultures and35 to 50 per cent of children went online to read news and this percentage is higher (up to 70 percent) among older childrenFewer children are engaged in civic activities - only about 11 to 17 per cent of children discussed social and political problems on line while 16 to 32 per cent of children looked for information about their neighborhood.Global Kids Online is a new online research partnership which aims to support high quality research on child internet use all over the world.This snapshot shows potential benefits of the internet for many children: that they like to explore and seek information, read news and look for answers to their concerns independently. In a today's world, the internet becomes not only a new "playground" but also a "library" a "public space' and a "community".In light of these advantages, it is important to state that some children are still unable to go online as much as they would like, impeding the realization of their rights. Barriers to access still persist, preventing full participation online. In South Africa we identified that just about half of children were able to access the internet whenever they wanted to most often due to high cost of data (47 per cent), but also because adults did not allow them to go online (32 per cent).This is certainly not due to malicious intent - indeed, most parents we spoke to in South Africa seemed very aware of the many advantages that internet brings - but rather due to the fear that they would be unable to adequately help and support their children online, which might subject them to risks.As a parent in South Africa expressed it during a focus group: "We don't know the internet, we don't know where to press to go in to look while they aren't there. We must also almost know how it works before we can say "how can we help?", because we can't help if we don't know [...]".In order to ensure that children globally can enjoy free (but not necessarily unsupervised) access to the internet, we need a two-pronged approach that focuses not only on informing children about internet use, but equally on informing parents and other stakeholders such as teachers and policy makers.Policies and strategies that promote empowered and safe online experiences should take into account children's agency, including their desire to experiment and sometimes to take risks, and also their desire to be responsible for themselves and their actions.Written by Jasmina Byrne and Daniel Kardefelt-Winther from UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti. Search the UNICEF Innocenti research publication catalogue . Sign up for UNICEF Innocenti email updates on any page here.  Visit Global Kids Online (www.globalkidsonline.net) to join a global research partnership led by UNICEF Innocenti and the London School of Economics and Political  Science to build a robust evidence base for better internet policy worldwide. The GKO website makes high quality, pilot tested research tools freely available.  
Why we need more research on children’s use of the Internet
Blog

Why we need more research on children’s use of the Internet

It is becoming difficult to imagine a day in a teenagers’ life – in all parts of the globe – without internet access: to socialize with peers, seek information, watch videos, post photos and news updates or play games. As the internet rapidly penetrates all regions, children’s experiences worldwide are increasingly informed by their use of information and communication technologies (ICTs). The ITU estimates that by the end of 2015, 3.2 billion people will be using the internet, 2 billion of which will be in developing countries. This exponential growth is largely attributable to the rapid spread of mobile broadband technology with 3G mobile coverage reaching close to 70% of the total world population. What implications does this have for children worldwide, particularly in the regions and countries where UNICEF works? We may see more and more children in lower income countries going online and more children accessing the internet through ‘mobile first’. We may see a digital divide growing not only between those who have access to the internet and those who do not, but also between generations: parents/ grandparents/ caregivers and children. We may see children’s educational experiences being hugely enhanced by access to the internet, but we may also see more children at risk of negative experiences (abuse, bullying, exploitation) because they lack guidance, support and mediation from their parents and educators who have not caught up yet with the fast pace of internet development. With this kind of advance in technology comes growing concern by child rights organizations, regulators, the private sector and other stakeholders that children’s rights need to be realised online as well as offline. The conditions that influence children’s access and behaviour online need to be recognised when internet technologies, services and policies are developed. However, we are not yet in a position to say what implications the internet will have on children’s lives globally. There is little robust evidence coming from lower income countries that examines the whole spectrum of child rights in the digital age. Where research exists, there are major challenges related to comparability of different national data sets, capturing the speed of technological change, varying cultural and contextual realities that influence how children behave online. In order to address this urgent need for evidence the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti in collaboration with the London School of Economics and EU Kids Online has supported the establishment of a global research consortium that involves key actors and universities from the Global North and the South. The first meeting of this research consortium took place in February 2015 when the group discussed: What research should be conducted to understand how children’s rights are being enhanced or undermined in the digital age, especially on a global basis? What data gathering and analytical tools do researchers need, and how can these best be designed and shared among different countries? What standards for rigorous methods of cross-national comparison need to be in place? What have we learned about how to compare findings across countries so as to share best practice, generalize knowledge where possible and anticipate future issues? Experts attending this symposium agreed that a research toolkit to facilitate global research on child rights and the internet is urgently needed. It should also be robust yet flexible enough to take account of variations in national contexts and children’s diverse living experiences. Moving ahead… As a result, a new research partnership was formed. UNICEF Innocenti, four UNICEF Country Offices: Argentina, the Philippines, South Africa and Serbia, the London School of Economics and EU Kids Online agreed to collaboratively design a research toolkit to guide the research efforts worldwide. It will consist of a modular survey, qualitative research protocols and a survey administration toolkit that would include methodological guides and expert reports. The results of this initiative will be shared globally through an open access web portal hosting the research toolkit, national reports, a synthesis report and other resources. We invite you to visit these special UNICEF and LSE web spaces which will help you take part in this important global research partnership. We hope that this work will inspire researchers and practitioners to generate more knowledge that will support the global policy efforts on child rights in the digital age. Jasmina Byrne is a lead researcher on children’s rights in the digital age in UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, Florence, Italy.

Journal articles

Why we need more research on children’s use of the Internet
Journal Article

Children as Internet users: how can evidence better inform policy debate?