As part of this year’s United Nation’s Internet Governance Forum in Paris, we organized a workshop together with our colleagues from Harvard University, Facebook, Google and UNICEF on Emerging Youth Practices and the Digital Economy.
Our workshop was concerned with exploring how youth may enter, are part of, and thrive in the digital economy. As part of the discussion during the workshop, we established that the participation of youth in the digital economy is impacted not only by inequalities in terms of Internet access, but also by gaps around factors such as a) level of connectivity, b) socioeconomic status, c) quality of education and d) degree of Internet freedom in a particular region. These gaps, in turn, affect the visibility of youth engaging in online economic activities. We further discussed that as youth participate in the digital economy, they have opportunities to not only cultivate economic capital but cultural and social capital. It’s worthwhile to consider how we might measure these forms of intangible capital. Finally, our workshop closed on the notion that it is important to consider how stakeholders operationalize the digital skills needed to successfully participate in the digital economy – not only safety-oriented skills but also skills around creativity and problem-solving. The way we define these skills must also be fluid and adaptable as developments in technologies continue to evolve.