About Youth and Media

Led by Principal Investigator Urs Gasser and Youth and Media Director Sandra Cortesi, in cooperation with Berkman board member John Palfrey and colleagues, Youth and Media encompasses an array of research, advocacy, and development initiatives around youth and digital technology. By understanding young people‘s interactions with digital media such as the Internet, cell phones, and video games, this highly collaborative project aims to gain detailed insights into youth practices and digital fluencies, harness the associated opportunities, address challenges, and ultimately shape the evolving regulatory and educational framework in a way that advances the public interest.

The Youth and Media project is split into a number of research projects and initiatives.

Current projects include:

  • Information Quality. Building upon the foundational research from the previous academic year, the Youth and Media team has engaged in two deep dives regarding quality issues of two types of online information that are particularly important from a societal and personal perspective: news (“current events”) and health information. Supported by the McCormick Foundation, the YaM team engages in collaborative research effort to close an important knowledge gap about youths’ online news behavior – including news gathering, evaluation practices, and creative re-use of information related to current events. The second deep dive focuses on health information. In close collaboration with Berkman Faculty Fellow Dr. Claire McCarthy, the YaM team designed a study to learn how youth search for, evaluate, and share health information online. Research shows that young people are increasingly turning to the Internet as a primary source for health information. This presents a critical topic of investigation, because the consequences of misinformation or other forms of low-quality information can be serious. Yet, this space also presents opportunities for informing youth about health issues that they might have felt hesitant about scoping out elsewhere.
  • Youth and Online Privacy. A long-standing interest of the YaM team is to better understand youth’s online information sharing practices and their evolving notions of and attitudes towards privacy, including reputation. In the past academic year, the YaM team has launched a long-term research initiative to gain a more nuanced understanding of youths’ conception of privacy, how this conception may differ from an adult perspective, and how it is reflected in the kinds of activities youth engage online. Specifically, the YaM team has entered a partnership with Pew Internet Research – represented by Lee Rainie, Mary Madden, and Amanda Lenhart – to study these questions through mixed methods such as literature reviews, focus groups, and surveys.
  • Born This Way Foundation Partnership.
  • Youth in Developing Countries.

The Youth and Media project is an interdisciplinary academic collaboration between the Research Center for Information Law at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland, the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and a network of individual researchers around the world. The researchers come from various disciplinary backgrounds and the team includes lawyers, psychologists, ethnographers, sociologists, educators, and media theorists. Together, we aim to cultivate the creative, educational, and revolutionary possibilities of youth activity in digital space, while at the same time addressing the genuine concerns that come with living life online.