Integrating Adult/Youth Perspectives on Technology (4 Dec 2014 meeting report)

December 4, 2014

Many thanks to Tanya Harmon and the BYU Romney Institute of Public Management for hosting this month’s meeting. The purpose of this meeting was to get people into some data — the outputs of the multiple meetings we have had with adults and with youth (“Not about them without them”) gathering input about what they see as the positives and negatives of technology in the lives of children and youth.

12 4 14 meeting room

Over 24 people were in attendance at our December 4 meeting. In addition to several cross-sector partners, some professors, as well as several MPA and other students attended. One of our board members also joined. Having the students involved in this data comparison activity proved to be very meaningful; they brought a perspective that was informed by their experience as digital immigrants, their passion for learning and data analysis, and their lack of inhibitions in sharing ideas and input. We are excited to involve them as we move forward. Alliance partners are encouraged to consider involving students through potential internships, and students may be able to help with data gathering and analysis. (More info to come on those opportunities.)

12 4 14 agenda

To prepare for this meeting, invitees were asked to familiarize themselves with this document which contains outputs from meetings both with adults and with youth, drawing out their perspectives on the positives and negatives of technology for children/youth.

After the welcome and the usual grounding in the collective impact process (see past meeting notes for diagrams), participants (who were assigned to four different tables, with four different combinations of data sets to assess) were given the following instructions:

Working Activity Instructions
Discussing the Adult/Youth Issues

1 minute: Identify Roles – Each team selects someone to fill the following roles:

  • Facilitator–lead discussion at table
  • Timekeeper–keep focused
  • Recorder–capture discussion comments
  • Reporter–report on discussion to large group

10 minutes: Individual Review of “Data”

  • Read/highlight
  • Record thoughts (key issues/patterns/contrasts/surprises)

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20 minutes: Small Group/Table Discussion

  • Share/record perspectives

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30 minutes: Large Group Reporting

  • Report on small group discussion insights
  • Capture large group Insights/Impressions

Following are the outputs of the four groups’ reports. Each group took a little different approach in processing and presenting their summaries of the data they were given.

Discussion/Dialogue Outputs

Table 1 – Processing adult perspectives on positives and negatives of technology for children/youth


  • Both the “+” & “-” are accessible
  • Addiction vs. Passion
  • What feelings and actions are produced from their technology?
  • What do they become?
  • Get what they go for
  • Show them the good

Table 2 – Processing youth input on positive and negative impacts of technology


  • Huge theme on social interaction/time-wasting
  • Time filler as “+” & “-“
  • Addiction to technology recognized & porn
  • Safety’s a big deal-not very emphasized
  • Issues regarding porn/safety looked as passive/invincible mindset
  • High access to info
  • Losing out on reality
  • Staying connected “+”/”-“?
  • The great connector/great divider
  • Balance overexposure vs. Digital illiteracy
  • Inaccurate info

Table 3 – Processing adult and youth input on negative impacts of technology

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Adults Youth
  • ALL gaming bad
  • Black & white
  • Adults can’t keep up
  • Parents have fears because they don’t understand tech
  • Porn large concern
  • Focused on brain development concerns
  • Too much information too soon
  • Tech should be a tool for communication
  • Kids
  • Bad language
  • Violence
  • Bullying
  • Right tech = cool
  • Tech creates self-centeredness
  • Some gaming bad = violence
  • Gray areas
  • Porn mentioned once
  • Personal safety
  • Tech is for entertainment
  • Tech has potential to create physical harm


  • Time wasted (youth-social media, waste when used unwisely
  • Creates distance between people
  • False info appearing real
  • Reality vs. Virtual/Cool vs. Not Cool/Parents vs. Kids
  • Is progress in tech good or bad?
  • Addiction
  • Internet predators

Table 4 – Processing adult and youth input on positive impacts of technology


Key Issues
  • How do we address good and emphasize it, bring out best, manage bad
  • Are the adults taking good enough into account?
  • What can we do vs. What we shouldn’t do
  • Are we fully utilizing the positive resource the internet is?
  • The bad is happening; how do we manage it?
Patterns Contrast

  • Who are the TRUE experts? Is the info accurate?


  • Permanent, lasts longer
  • People we wouldn’t have
  • Continued influence-not “stranger danger”


  • Huge benefit to “do it yourself”
  • Correct facts
  • Kids brought out significantly more good
  • Adults; closed access, don’t recognize tech as permanent and here forever (see it as a fleeting issue)
  • Kids; see it as part of everyday life, “everyone uses it”, the norm
  • A lot of really great is happening we are not looking at
    • How can we help them choose properly by seeing the good
    • “Don’t” does not help like “What to do”
  • Is focusing on negative creating negative? Piquing interest?

Participants then engaged in a large group discussion about insights and impressions they had during the activity.

Insights & Impressions

– Value of youth perspective
– Important to get broad perspective
– Importance of educating parents on good
– Real skills include & involve technology
– Help them to get to point to make decisions on own–don’t just tell them, show them
– How to help youth make connections
– Teach them how to use it
– Factual vs. Biased? Fear based? Fear one of the worst things
– Are we giving them all options & facts on both sides
– Be aware of our lenses & judgments & assumptions
– Tech is an experiment on battleground
– Tech is “different” vs “good” or “bad”
– Help parents not to be fearful, to be familiar
– Protect “them” –we need it too –protect us
– At some point we will need to trust them

Parking Lot

At each meeting, we also have a Parking Lot section on the wall where people can record ideas that have come during the meeting but were not able to be discussed at any length.


  • Scott Church: involve a person that has a “clean movie” company
  • Technology as a Tool; youth clearly recognize that technology can be a waste of time.
    But they’re still going to use is because the apparent benefits outweigh the costs (at least
    in their eyes).

    • So instead of discouraging the use of technology, we should encourage its use AS A TOOL rather
      than merely a source of entertainment.
  • A tech-savvy adult/parent can more effectively accentuate the positive, relate to youth,
    and have a voice of authority as it relates to using tech safely & successfully
  • Stephanie Hibbert: diversify the faith-based participants needed
  • Some relevant literature
    • Digital Enclaves (Cass Sunstein, “Enclave Extension”) summary: rather than bringing us all together
      (i.e., a great deliberative democracy), internet technology actually splinters us into specialized
    • 2012 (?) Amy Petersen Jensen “Some Hopeful Words on Media & Agency” BYU Devotional
      summary: It’s not that media is removing our agency (i.e., technological determinism), it’s giving us
      more opportunities to make choices
  • What research have you seen on cognitive development?
  • Qtr. 1 2015 Meeting Dates Jan 28th & Mar 10th (in response to UCAP week 1 conflict)

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