Youth perspectives on tech in schools: from mobile devices to restrictions and monitoring

Mobile phones Youth Schools Information technology United States of America

Introduction: This research brief is a contribution by the Youth and Media team at the Berkman Center to its Student Privacy Initiative, which seeks to explore the opportunities and challenges that may arise as educational institutions adopt cloud computing technologies. In order to understand the implications of cloud services for student privacy more holistically, it might be helpful to examine how technology that is already implemented in academic contexts is used by youth and to explore how students feel about current practices. Towards this goal and informed by our recent research, the brief aims to make visible the youth perspective regarding the use of digital technology in the academic context, with a focus on privacy-relevant youth practices, limitations on access to information, and youth’s relation to educators in a high-tech environment. The brief includes insights and quotes gathered through a series of in-person focus groups as well as data from a questionnaire administered to all focus group participants. In addition, it highlights in a few instances additional research and data.

The overarching study was conducted by the Youth and Media team between February and August 2013. The team conducted 30 focus group interviews with a total of 203 participants across the greater Boston area, Chicago, Greensboro (North Carolina), Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara. Each focus group lasted 90 minutes, including the 15-minute questionnaire, consisting of 20 multiple-choice questions and one open-ended response. Although the research sample was not designed to constitute representative cross-sections of particular populations, the sample includes participants from diverse ethnic, racial, and economic backgrounds. Participants ranged in age from 11 to 19. The mean age of participants is 14.8 (SD = 1.96).

Authored by Sandra Cortesi, Paulina Haduong, Urs Gasser, Osman Tolga Aricak, Mark Saldaña, and Zach Lerner.

Publication Details