Conectados al Sur: Costa Rica Symposium, finalizes with great success

Digital Transformation and New Challenges for the Inclusion of Youth

San José (Costa Rica), January 15 and 16, 2018

2 days debating and enriching each other with the contributions of almost 100 participants, for the inclusion of young people in relation to digital technologies. Based on various methodologies such as Co-design with youth, participatory research, construction of narratives and content in digital media, information visualization and learning in action, a series of sessions were developed focusing on three main topics: Digital Citizenship, Digital Economy and Artificial Intelligence. The results of the Conectados al Sur Latin American workshops were also presented, where 5 countries participated in the implementation with young people. Find more information here: 



Bios and pictures of participants (ongoing list):


List of Participants (Spreadsheet)


Conectados al Sur: Costa Rica


Bringing together a wide range of individuals —academics, activists, philanthropists, government officials, young people, and representatives of technology companies primarily from Latin America and the Caribbean — this interactive, participatory event builds upon a multi-year collaboration between the Berkman Klein Center’s Youth and Media project and UNICEF.

The symposium particularly focused on the use and adaptation of the Internet by traditionally underserved youth across Latin America and the Caribbean in order to increase the inclusion of these groups online, and on the following three areas (which may overlap):


  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI and related technologies have started to shape important parts of the digital life and affect core areas of our increasingly networked societies. In education, healthcare, employment, entertainment, and public safety, AI has the potential to deeply impact our lives and shape our individual and collective futures in ways both visible and hidden. For today’s youth, AI will play an even more significant role in shaping their lived experiences. The promise of AI-based technologies is enormous, and benefits range from efficiency gains to improvements in day-to-dayquality of life. However, the challenges and potential risks are equally significant, for instance, when considering the uncertainty regarding the future of labor and the role of academic or technical education. More specifically, the uneven access to and impact of AI and related technologies on often marginalized populations, which include but are not limited to youth in rural areas, LGBTQ youth, ethnic and racial minorities, youth with disabilities, girls and young women, contribute to the disturbing risk of amplifying digital inequalities.


  • Digital Citizenship

In order to support young people in addressing the challenges and embracing the opportunities associated with the transformation of our digital ecosystem, the design of informal and formal learning spaces has become a priority to decision-makers both in the private and public sectors. Programs that aim to address these developments have been labeled as “digital citizenship” programs. Not surprisingly, while many digital citizenship programs demonstrate promise, they often vary in terms of their definitions and approaches. any of these definitions, frameworks, concepts, and programs around digital citizenship often fail to incorporate the perspectives of their youth user base into the semantic framing or into the research and design process. They also tend to over utilize  challenge-centric rhetoric, like cyberbullying and online safety, even as they attempt to capture more than one area of online life. Without emphasizing these concerns in tandem with the benefits that the Internet and digital technologies provide particularly in areas such a participation, civic engagement, and youth empowerment these digital literacy programs can give an imbalanced perspective on the online space. Given these challenges  the larger question of how to embrace the perspectives of the population they intend to serve remains.


  • Digital Economy


The evolution of the digital environment has lead to a dynamic ecosystem of commercial and non-commercial platforms and services that millions of young people around the world use. These platforms and services provide everything from vehicles for self-expression, learning, playing, and connecting, and can foster the development of skills, attitudes, and identities that are relevant to youths’ future participation in the evolving digital economy. This new space presents both opportunities and challenges for youth.These commercial and non-commercial platforms and services offer opportunities for communicating, learning, socializing, playing, and earning capital. The cultural/affective labor youth perform on the Internet as they produce cultural and/or informational goods has the capacity to generate social, cultural, and economic capitalIn these cases, youth media practices can be considered “capital enhancing activities”; as youth are able to increase their social connections, build personal brands, reputations, and, in some cases, earn money, they expand opportunities for improving their social, cultural, and economic status. However, as most popular digital platforms and services are corporations governed by adults, the power asymmetries between provider and user put youth in a position of disadvantage. Because the digital economy relies heavily on the data produced by users, the risks around privacy, surveillance, and exploitation of youth labor has the potential to increase. As some researchers have argued, the digital economy relies on a type of cultural and technological labor that is often unpaid and exploited by commercial companies through the commercialization of youth’s data and generated content.

Complementing the three areas above, the following three methods will play a key transversal role during the symposium:


  • Co-design with youth


In participatory design, work is collaborative and integrated with youth perspectives. The goal is for young people to be directly included in the research process, starting with the generation of ideas, and extending into the design and the implementation of research initiatives.


  • Participatory research


This methodology allows the “object of study” or “communities of study” to act as key actors in the research process (setting of objectives, methodological design, application and analysis, etc.). Given the integration of both science and practice, this approach facilitates the ability to directly influence research-based policies and strategies.


  • Construction of narratives, contents in digital media and visualization


In this section we will discussed the different ways researchers can, in collaboration with young people, produce knowledge and content. This form of research allows youth to actively participate in storytelling through digital media–stories that will often be disseminated via digital spaces such as social networks, blogs, etc. This section of the symposium also focuses on demonstrating how to most effectively present and visualize the stories youth create through emerging technologies.


This post is also available in: Spanish