Open data is child's play

Open data is child's play

In past #makeopendata events, we have had little to no participation from people under 18. Yet the subjects we tackle are more relevant than ever for the younger generation, who not only tend to be early adopters of new apps and social networks, but are themselves data sharers often divulging personal information online without realizing it – exposing themselves and their families to the potential misuse of online data. It could be a big win to get more kids to be interested in programming, design, and especially the kind of critical thinking about real world issues that open data projects encourage.

Open data sources, the tools we are using and projects under development are easily applicable to education and community youth projects. Because we tend to be quite familiar with the latest Internet platforms and trends, even a handful of our members could have a positive impact in schoolrooms and workshops. Conversely, the participation of younger people in our projects could add immensely to the creativity and diversity of projects in the community.

There was already a successful project called Open Data an der Kantonsschule Enge which was run outside of the Open Data hackathons. We would like to help generate new events and workshops like this, and get the community more involved. This is a proposal to consider adopting some of the principles of Young Rewired State, and to expand our community to include or focus on younger participants in the workshops and conferences.

Meanwhile, Apple was recently sued (Daily Mail) by parents concerned by children enticed to spend money in apps. Despite 5 million+ underage users which are hard to estimate because the age restrictions are so easy to get around, the official policy is that “Facebook and many other web sites bar people under age 13 because the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) requires web sites to give special treatment to children 12 or younger.” (Reuters). These laws are likely to be tightened with stricter penalties (Fox News), but what changes will that bring about in the online world? What impact to they have on the kids who grow up communicating on social networks and what barriers will we see for the adults responsible?

I think that it is unlikely that controls and safeguards have much practical impact if we do not act to better educate and inspire children directly. This project intends to kickstart ideas for how we can get kids involved in future Open Data events. Let’s run a hackathon in a school. Let’s build some apps for kids. Let’s study online youth populations and family statistics. And so on.. My one year old has made an appearance at some of the hackathons already, and as she grows up I feel a responsibility to contribute to positive change that will help all kids get a better view on the online terrain.

Please jump in let me know if any of this strikes a chord. Open data – “you know, for kids!”

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