A new government report on young people and power structures in Norway, NOU 2011: 20 – Ungdom, makt og medvirkning, has just been sent out for comments, and our department administration asked us Digital Culture people to take a look at the sections on digital citizenship and privacy in digital media. Petter Bae Brandtzæg was on the committee, and I imagine he had a fair bit to do with these sections. Skimming through it I haven’t seen anything very shocking, but there are some useful stats here and there. For instance, if you were wondering how often young (and not-so-young) Norwegians post about politics on Facebook, here’s the answer:
The report discusses a number of Norwegian cases of online activism – the protests against the expulsion of Marie Amelie, against the power lines in Hardanger or the 50,000 strong boycott of Coca Cola that caused the company to cut off its cooperation with the father of the presumed murderer of the Norwegian student Martine in the UK. Of course, the rose parades after July 22 are also mentioned. The paradox of teaching children to always hide their name and personal information online, and then expecting them to take part in public, political debate, is also mentioned. The committee recommends that digital citizenship be made part of the curriculum in schools (they propose a whole new subject called democracy in an earlier chapter, similar to the British subject Citizenship), and that more research is done on youth and digital citizenship.
I can’t get over how much harder it is to openly participate in politics after I got a corporate job. This is an overly discussed issue – but it rang it’s bells again when I saw this. I do like to consider myself a very politically engaged person, but more often than not I don’t participate publicly, and as we all know by now, Facebook is a public sphere (ehm …).
I have no idea what’s in the curriculum for teenagers these days, but I would love there to be subjects on digitial citizenship and ethics. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t mind teaching that class! I do believe that teenagers are very digitally social savvy, but I still think there’s a lot that can be taught. Maybe not taught, but thought seeds planted for further contemplation, help them to think a little critically about things such as Facebook not being a public space and their digital identity rights. I would love to talk to teenagers about these things!