We have a quick question for you

By | Operations | 723 Comments

In our busy lives, we don’t always have time to sit down and think about complex dilemmas, let alone write down long answers, even if the topic is fascinating!

We get that, that’s cool.
For proof, we’re just going to ask you one quick question:
is it important to learn how to code?

Our latest Mission is a quick poll. Answer NOW so you can move on to whatever it is you need to do next!


How cool is school when it comes to technology?

By | Operations | 1,290 Comments

Time to tell the truth… How cool is school when it comes to technology?
The latest RErights Operation is about EDUCATION and it is the most exciting one to date!

What do you learn with technology?
What do you want to know about technology?
What’s it like at school today? And, best of all, what will school look like tomorrow?

Mission 1: Learning – looks at informal education and the things you learn outside school.
Mission 2: ClassTech – is a survey about the technology available at school and what aspects of technology you are taught.
Mission 3: Goal – looks at the goals of education as defined in the Convention, and how technology helps better achieve those goals (or sometimes gets in the way?).
Mission 4: Tomorrow – asks you to describe the school of the future and the role technology might play.

What do YOU think about school, technology and your education? Go on, don’t be shy!
Complete Operation Education now.


Health & time – can technology help?

By | Debrief | 1,295 Comments

rerights_impact-blogs_7In previous posts, we looked at your opinions around your rights to be informed, to privacy, to socialise and to be protected from violence. But digital technology impacts your rights in many other ways.

When Agents told us which rights they felt are impacted in the digital age, only one person selected the right to health. Interestingly though, when we invited you to tell us about the positive and negative impacts of digital technology on your rights in Mission Opposites, you mentioned the right to health a number of times, and always as a right that is challenged in the digital age.

From the effects of staring at a screen on eyesight to not spending enough time outside, being less active or even to concerns around addiction, the idea that digital technology might not be so good for your health came up several times.

“When we get addicted to our digital devices, we tend to stay up all night playing a game, watching movies, chatting with friends or simply listening to music, and that is really bad for our health.” Malaysia, 14

Surprisingly, the idea that digital technology might support better health is rarely mentioned. Yet, technology now plays a big role in health research, treatments delivery and outcomes. With apps to support mental health or monitor chronic conditions, and an avalanche of devices to track fitness, we’re wondering: could a negative be turned into a positive? Does digital technology support the community’s overall health and wellbeing, or not? Is digital technology mostly good or bad for your health? Tell us what you think by posting a comment.

You explored the tension between positive and negative impacts of technology in other areas too. One Agent in Malaysia highlighted how technology is both a great tool to save time, but also interferes with daily life by wasting time!

I have many things to do in a day and having digital technology such as laptop and printer really do help me to save times by printing and typing my assignments instead of writing it on my exercise book and etc.
I used too much time with my digital technology [so] that it disturbs my life. I don’t have enough time to do my other responsibilities due to my time wasted by playing with the digital technology such as my smartphone.
Malaysia, 17

Technology saves time on things that used to take longer and allows time for activities that perhaps did not happen before, so why do we feel that we waste time by doing them? We cannot create more time, so how do we fit more in the time we have? Should some activities be left out? Or should we split our time between all the things we feel we should be doing? How do you decide what deserves more or less time, or what is ‘a good use of time’ versus ‘wasted time’? We would love to hear more on this topic – leave a comment and share your experience.

Now that you have considered the impact of digital technology on your rights, what does it mean for the Convention that was written before the explosion of internet? Should it be updated?
This is what
Mission Evolve is about. We have received some interesting insights from Agents already. So, if you haven’t already, join in and share your ideas. We’ll be looking at the results very soon – stay tuned!


Protection from all forms of violence

By | Debrief | 1,322 Comments

rerights_impact-blogs_6What’s digital technology got to do with your rights?
Well, quite a lot, from what Agents are saying in Missions
Impact and Opposites. As we saw in previous posts, digital technology helps to implement some rights – like access to information or freedom of expression – but can interfere with other rights, like privacy. For many of you, digital technology has also had a significant impact on what’s commonly called ‘protection rights’.

Protection rights form a large part of the Convention. They aim to protect children from any activity that could harm their welfare and development (Article 36). Article 19 says that children have the right to be protected from all forms of violence, abuse and neglect – and some of you felt that digital technology interferes with this right. The main reason you gave was that the online world might increase some forms of harm or even create new ones, and cyberbullying was the most commonly reported example.

“We do not have protection from various forms of violence in the virtual Internet network especially when we talk about cyberbullying” Brazil, 14

“Because bullying spreads outside the school yard through cyberbullying.” France, 16

Alongside behaviours that only happen online, other, offline forms of harm or violence can be made easier with technology, either through easier tracking of information or because of greater anonymity. These things may not increase your risk of harm, but they might make it harder to protect yourself. Some of you mentioned that Article 11 – on protection from parental kidnapping – and Article 35 – on protection from abduction, sale and trafficking – are harder to enact in the digital age. The same can be said for other forms of violence or exploitation, such as sexual exploitation (Article 34).

“It’s pretty rare, but it happens nonetheless that children are kidnapped because of information disclosed for example on the internet (place, time, location …).” France, 14

“We still have many children who surf the internet without supervision of a responsible adult, and we never know who is on the other side of the screen communicating with us. Today in Brazil we see many crimes against children mainly from the use of the internet.” Brazil, 14

Agents seemed to recognise that risk exposure and harmful events might occur in different ways in the digital age, but the right to protection remains the same and is as important now as it was 27 years ago, when the Convention was adopted.

Do you agree? What else can you tell us about digital technology and your right to be protected from all forms of violence? If you haven’t already, accept your next Mission in Operation Uncool and tell us more about the issue of stuff happening online that is simply not cool.

Out next: our final blog post about the impact of technology on your rights. We’ll look at your answers around digital technology, health and time management.


Is there a right to socialise?

By | Debrief | 20 Comments

rerights_impact-blogs_5As we all know, digital technology ー and social media in particular ー has hugely changed the ways we communicate and who we interact with. Technology makes it easier to connect with our interests, or the groups we identify with.

Some of you recognised – in social media, online communities, forums or chatrooms – an example of how Article 15 of the Convention, on freedom of association, can be better enacted in the digital age: “digital technology helps [the] right to meet, make friends with, and form groups with other people” (Malaysia, 17). This includes connecting with minority groups, which is why some Agents also felt that technology helps implement Article 30 – which is about your right to preserve your own culture, language and religion as a minority.

But again, there were contradictions: Agents also viewed the internet as both a result of and factor in globalisation; and globalisation can present a threat to minority cultures, languages and traditions.

“With help from social media they can have easier contact with others of their group and because of internet they can gather information about the group.” Belgium, 17

“[Technology interferes with] the right to learn and use languages and customs of their family (…) as children will be obsessed with the new trends and they would not follow the family tradition.” Malaysia, 16

The right “to socialise with other people online”, “to make friends through social media” or even “to talk to people who are far away” are just a few examples of how you considered social interaction as being an important right in the digital age. However, while you were clear about the positive impact of technology on ‘freedom of association’ and the right to stay in touch with specific groups, many of you ー often the same Agents who expressed these positive aspects ー also mentioned how technology interferes with social and family relationships.

“[Technology interferes with] social skills as in talking to one another… [because] the more we chat and stay behind this wall called social media the harder it is to connect in the real world, face to face with people. So, the more we connect, the more we disconnect.” Malaysia, 14

“[Technology interferes with] my family relationships… [because] since we all have our own digital technology right now, we don’t talk much as much as we do before.” Malaysia, 17

It’s true that the Convention emphasises the importance of social and family relationships, but is more focused on inclusion and awareness ー the right to know who your parents are, to be raised by family if possible, and to know your culture ー than on socialising.

Your answers made us think: should ‘socialising’ actually be a right? Should more emphasis be put on the importance of social interaction ー both online and offline ー and on learning social skills? And if there is tension between offline and online interaction, does the right to socialise offline need to be protected also? Tell us what you think by posting a comment.

Talking of ‘protection’: does digital technology make it easier or harder to protect children? Find out in our next post about protection from all forms of violence.


Private or not private… is that the question?

By | Debrief | 11 Comments

rerights_impact-blogs_4In Mission DigiRights, many Agents mentioned privacy as one of the three most important rights in the digital age. Privacy is also the right that you most commonly reported as being negatively impacted by digital technology, in Mission Opposites. Here’s what you told us.

In recent times, digital technology has turned many more online interactions into customised user experiences, asking us to provide personal details, create multiple accounts or link accounts from different platforms. While digital interactions that are tailored to our interests can be great, this trend also highlights the commercial value of our personal digital data: “Many sites sell personal information.” (France, 16).

The media talks a lot about the risks associated with losing control of your personal information. And the practice of computer hacking gives rise to ‘cyber-concerns’ around financial fraud or identity theft. It can be hard to tell to what extent these are in fact more common, easier to commit, harder to track, or simply more publicised.

“The right of privacy would be breached as there are a lot of hackers online who may steal information from the children.” Malaysia, 16

The fear of cyber-criminals was mentioned several times, but your opinions and sensitivity around ownership of your data strongly came through in your answers. What happens to the information we provide – often willingly – online? The media has focused increasingly on the large scale collection of personal information and ‘Big Brother’-style surveillance, inflaming debates about the divisions between public and private and asking to what extent individuals should have control of their information. Some of you expressed opinions around the use or misuse of your personal data by big companies and institutions, ranging from feelings of mild irritation or unfairness to frustration or distrust.

“[The] internet collects private data that can expose people’s personal information that they want to keep private.” Serbia, 16

“Some of the websites that [ask for] my name and identity card numbers don’t really make sure that my info is secured.” Malaysia, 17

[What rights are important in the digital age?] “To be protected against intensive collection of private data (taken by businesses and GOVERNMENT!).” France, 16

Technology makes it much easier to search for information about anyone: gone are the days when only a few people were famous enough to have anything published about them. Today, information is available about almost anyone: things we post about ourselves or that other people or institutions publish. It’s getting harder to enjoy the benefits of today’s information and communication tools without leaving a digital footprint – which in turn becomes a growing and easily searchable source of information. Have you ‘googled someone’ by way of a first introduction? Have you ever ‘googled’ yourself and been surprised by the search results?

Article 16 of the Convention states: “No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his or her honour and reputation”. In your responses to these topics, you told us that young people are well aware of the issues at stake, and that protecting your privacy really matters to you.

But even when we all agree that privacy should be protected, how do we decide what privacy is and how to protect it?

“Some children display their entire life on the internet, not finding any barriers between public and private life and sometimes revealing intimate and personal information.” France, 14

Digital technology might create new risks, but it also provides new ways to manage how public and private intersect. If you haven’t already, head to Operation Privacy, where you will find some interesting Missions to take the conversation further.

Next, we’ll look at socialising… Does technology help or interfere with social interaction? Is social interaction a right? Check in soon to find out more!


Thriving with digital technology

By | Debrief | 42 Comments

rerights_impact-blogs_3In Mission Opposites you considered the reasons why digital technology might positively or negatively impact your rights.

The Convention is not just a list of rights, it also says that Governments should do everything they can to support children and allow them to thrive as they journey towards adulthood. Many of the Agents who completed Mission Opposites felt that digital technology provides opportunities to flourish and grow as individuals, “because with technology we can develop our interests” (Indonesia, 16). Some of you pointed out that digital technology helps your right to freedom of thought “because internet gives the access to children to explore new things” (Malaysia, 17).

Growing and developing into adults is your number one job every day. But growing up isn’t always easy, and sometimes you need a little support and direction. Article 5 of the Convention recognises your right to parental guidance, and puts responsibility on Governments to “assist families in fulfilling their role as nurturers of children”. Many of you felt that digital technology impacts on this right for parental guidance but, interestingly, some of you see this as a positive impact, while others saw the negative side.

“With technology it’s easier to guide children.” Indonesia, 16

“It’s harder for parents to guide their children because they can do things on the internet without the awareness of the parents.” Belgium, 17

“Some children might not notify their parents on the sites they surf on.” Malaysia, 15

You have told us that technology can help young people to thrive. So, shouldn’t technology also support parents in helping children to thrive? What kind of guidance do you think young people need? And what do parents need in order to better guide young people in the digital age? How can parents use technology to support young people and better enact article 5?

Still on the topic of young people’s development, another theme in your answers is agency: in other words, the capacity to make choices, to form opinions and to act upon them. Most of you highlighted how technology provides new ways for people ー especially young people ー to express themselves. This points to a recent change in how we think of technology, and the internet in particular: from a tool to access, receive or consume information to a way for people to create and, more importantly, participate as citizens and community members. And you are keen to join the conversation!

“Many blogs or sites ask for people’s stands and opinion on all sorts of matter and there are ways to raise awareness about some things and create movements and target groups.” Serbia, 16

“Nowadays it is possible to express oneself on the internet and social media… Our words can reach much further, sometimes worldwide.” France, 14

What better way to start start building your agency as a young person than by raising awareness about your rights? Article 42 of the Convention says that children have the right to know their rights and that adults should help children learn about them. From what you are saying, it seems that technology can help do just that! And if you feel inspired to share your knowledge, check out Special Op 002!

“Because of the internet children can now look up what their rights are.” Belgium, 17

“From the digital technology children and young people can form an organization eg UNICEF to discuss of our rights as children.” Malaysia, 17

“I didn’t know about all of these rights, even if some were obvious to me, before I went on to RErights which I have discovered thanks to social media and therefore thanks to new technologies.” France, 14

Thriving is also about building resilience and making the right decision when you are faced with challenges. What challenges does digital technology throw at you?

Coming up next: your right to privacy.


About your right to access information

By | Debrief | 43 Comments

rerights_impact-blogs_2In Mission Opposites, Agents highlighted three rights they thought were positively impacted by digital technology, and three rights they thought were negatively impacted. The right most commonly reported as being positively impacted by digital technology was the right to access information.

“Information is easily found on the internet.” Belgium, 17

The internet is an incredible source of information. As one Agent said: “[the] internet has nearly all the answers” (France, 13). Digital technology has made getting information quick and easy, and many of you rely on it ー to complete school projects, for example.

In fact, many of you said that digital technology helps to implement your right to education because of the way it facilitates access to information. One Agent from Malaysia pointed out that translation programs such as Google Translate “helps me to understand other languages to expand my knowledge” (Malaysia, 17), while another said that “Internet is a good platform to use in order to expand an individual’s mind capacity and vocab.” (Malaysia, 15).

But having so much information brings other challenges, one problem some of you mentioned was the accuracy of information. For some Agents, digital technology makes it easier to access correct information. But for others, it makes it harder to tell the difference between true and untrue information.

“On the internet and with new technologies in general one can find all sorts of information and not all are true.” France, 14

“Without the Internet, we only get our new information with the newspapers, news on TV and magazines. So with the Internet, it gives me quicker updates and more valid facts.” Malaysia, 17

What do you think? Does easier access mean you get better information? Does too much information make it harder to find what’s correct? In Operation News there is a quick survey about online and offline news information. Fill it in to tell us more!

Let’s get back to your rights. Article 17 of the Convention says that children have the right to get information that is important to their health and wellbeing and that they can understand. This includes information in languages spoken by minority and indigenous children. Article 17 also says that mass media should not promote materials that could harm children.

So there are clearly two sides to this article: the right to access information and the right to be protected from some information. This is where it gets tricky as both aspects can be contradictory, isn’t that right? How can we have better access to information but still be protected from some kinds of information? Having one doesn’t necessarily mean letting go of the other and, in the end, we need both these rights. When asked how the Convention might need updating for the digital age, one Agent said “According to article 17, children have the right to get reliable information from the radio, TV and newspaper. This right could be further improved if the radio stations or televisions reduce their broadcasting of explicit videos with sexual content and vulgar words.” (Malaysia, 17). It seems that how to get the right balance is an interesting question that adults and young people may need to think about more.

So, does digital technology support or contradict article 17? The internet has taken access to information to a whole new level: it is a champion at supporting your right to information in a way that no one imagined when article 17 was written. But today there are regular media debates about children accessing ‘inappropriate’ content online. As we found out in the first phase of RErights, young people themselves are concerned about seeing disturbing content or learning the harsh realities of the world at a young age” on news sites (USA, 16). At the same time, parental control software or restrictions designed to protect children from accessing inappropriate content ー which some might say is a good way to follow Article 17 ー were also denounced as a breach of your right to access information.

Some better questions might be: Is blocking access the best way to protect children? Are there other ways? When it comes to information, what do you want access to, and protection from? How would you implement article 17? Tell us what you think by posting a comment below.

In the next post, read about how digital technology helps you thrive and become tomorrow’s adults.


Does digital technology impact your rights?

By | Debrief | 1,314 Comments

rerights_impact-blogs_1True, wondering how technology affects your rights might not be your first thought when you pick up a phone or switch on a computer, but this is a question we asked you, RErights Agents, to think about in
Mission Impact… Here is what you’ve told us so far.

In Mission Impact, you had to select the rights you thought were impacted by digital technology, in either a good or a bad way. And one thing was clear: yes, you do believe that digital technology impacts on your rights. In fact, it seems to have a significant impact. In a list of 28 rights based on the 42 articles of the Convention nearly all were selected by at least one person. Most of you chose ten rights or more from the list, with some selecting over twenty.

In your own words, rights are “the fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people” (India, 16) and although the concept of rights can seem a bit abstract, most of you said in different ways that rights are also directly related to everyday life: rights define what we can and cannot do” (France, 13). With digital technology increasingly a part of our daily lives, it’s no surprise, then, to find that it does impact your rights.

So, which of your rights did you say were most impacted by digital technology? So far the five top-ranked rights are:

  • freedom of expression
  • the right to express your views in matters that concern you
  • the right to access information
  • the right to privacy
  • the right for your rights to be known, protected and implemented.

But that’s not all. The majority of Agents also said that digital technology impacts on awareness, protection and implementation of rights, on freedom of thought and religion, and on your rights to an identity, education, leisure, play and culture. To a slightly lesser extent, ‘protection rights’ ー such as protection from exploitation and all forms of violence, protection from kidnapping, child labour or drug abuse ー were also among the rights that you think are impacted by digital technology.

In the end, only two of the 28 rights listed in our condensed version of the Convention were not selected. None of you really felt that digital technology has an impact on your right to live with, and be raised by family, and on your right to a juvenile justice system.

So, what sort of impact are we talking about? Is it good or bad? Let’s look at the detail behind the ranking. It was clear from your responses that digital technology provides amazing opportunities to improve some rights, but could also challenge others rights. In Mission Opposites, Agents highlighted three rights they thought were positively impacted by digital technology, and three rights they thought were negatively impacted. You also explained the reasons for your choices. It was interesting to see that sometimes Agents chose the same rights but for different reasons. In fact, we can’t fit all the findings into a single post, so we’re going to report back to you in a short series of regular blogs about the themes and rights you selected.

Come back in a couple of days to read more about digital technology and your right to access information in our next post.


Hearing from Creativity Group

By | RErights news | 1,329 Comments

Creativity Group is one of our Hi-Tech Heroes. We recently had a chance to catch up with Abdul-kawiyu from Creativity Group to talk about their work and their ideas about using technology to help educate and empower young people. Here’s what Abdul told us:

How did Creativity Group first begin?

Creativity Group was first started by a group of students at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in response to an inadequate environment for practical experience. The students wanted to undertake various innovative projects in order to maximize the knowledge they acquire from the University, solving problems in their communities and to encourage other students to do same.

Since then, Creativity Group has successfully opened branches in the five major Universities of the nation [Ghana] where students are trained, monitored and guided to use their field of study to solve problems of the community using science and technology.

What’s an example of the type of project that Creativity Group members have worked on?

One good example is the uServe. The uServe is a microserver device which uses offline technology to provide educational content to rural and remote schools that cannot access or afford internet service. In this marvellous device, we successfully compiled the data of the most educative websites. The system can also periodically connect Itself to the internet to upgrade its content. It is designed and programmed to provide internet-like service through wireless and cable connection.

The uServe seems like an interesting way to provide resources from the Internet in places where online access is difficult. What other ways do you think the Internet can be useful for young people?

The Internet is important for the Right to Education because it can provide fair and easily accessible educational material to all students across the globe.

It also provides the platform to undertake courses online without going through the hassle of transportation, feeding and accommodation which deny a lot of people from literacy over the years. And, the Internet is also a source to harness information from human rights protection organizations.

“The vision of the Creativity Group is to see an Africa where the youth understands the importance of science and technology, where youth is abreast with the globally changing technology and can utilize it in solving their own personal, community and national problems without waiting for a third party.”

So, as well as Education, the Internet can be a good way for young people to find out more about their rights and the world around them. That’s not always easy to achieve though is it?

True. Creativity Group is interested in science and technology in relation to children’s rights and children’s empowerment. Children have the right to education; they also have the right to good health care. The internet, drones and sophisticated health machines like the X-ray and ultrasonic devices enhance children’s health, health care education and education in general.

But we are in a generation where a lot of people are still technologically blind, with almost no hope of overcoming this blindness, and that is to talk of some adult Africans. The coming generation of students should therefore be inspired and motivated into embracing and utilizing science and technology in an early age to overcome this current sympathetic canker.

So Creativity Group isn’t just interested in the Internet, but also in other technologies?

That’s right. Many of our projects are about technology and children’s rights. For example, uServe provides online educational materials to children in deprived communities which protects their rights to education. Our Smart Water Control project enhances the lifespan of water pumping machines in basic schools which provide them with clean water for good health. And we are currently building a Health Care Drone to distribute drugs and other healthcare materials to clinics in rural areas during emergency situations.

That’s really impressive! What would your advice be to other young people who are interested in the work you do?

Our advice to the youth of Ghana and Africa as a whole is to come together and start solving their own community problems with what they have and what they know. It doesn’t take so much to be innovative and creative and it doesn’t take so much to be a problem solver, all that is needed is the desire, hard work and dedication.

Thanks very much for talking to us Abdul. Is there a final message you’d like to give to all our RErights agents around the world?

Creativity Group undertakes innovative projects geared towards solving specific community problems. As societal needs change, these solutions must be updated to meet current needs.

The vision of the Creativity Group is to see an Africa where youth understand the importance of science and technology, where youth is abreast with globally changing technology and can utilize it in solving their own personal, community and national problems without waiting for a third party.



We’d like to say a big thanks to Abdul and the rest of team at Creativity Group for taking the time to talk to us about the really great work they’re doing with young people in Ghana and around Africa. And, we also really appreciate their support for RErights!

If you’d like more information about Creativity Group, visit their web site: www.creativitygroup.org