Young people and algorithms

Algorithms are a significant part of young people’s lives and deeply rooted in their daily routines. In this context, the Danish Media Council for Children and Young People and the Centre for Digital Youth Care have developed educational materials that reflect young people’s perspectives and provide information on the importance of understanding the underlying mechanisms behind personal recommendation algorithms. Students engaged with a spectrum of knowledge, dilemmas, and opinions while discussing in the classroom. The material results from extensive involvement from young participants, with 250 eighth-grade students participating in workshops to contribute to its development. 

Date 2024-04-29 Author Danish Safer Internet Centre Section awareness Topic media literacy/education Audience children and young people, media specialist, organisations and industry
person presenting educational material to young people

The educational material encompassed a variety of activities, spanning from plenary and floor exercises to board games, each tailored to serve a specific purpose and incorporating analogue elements. Each exercise came with a teacher's guide, offering educators a solid and fundamental understanding of the material before conducting the exercises with their respective classes. In the first exercise, for instance, a video material was created featuring a specialist in digital culture, Maia Kahlke Lorentzen, who offered valuable advice explaining algorithms. In the video below, Maia explains how an algorithm works and how the music platform Spotify uses recommendation algorithms to generate the ‘Discover Weekly’ playlist, analysing user data.

 

Simultaneously, in the same exercise, students could watch videos where young people shared their perspectives on algorithms and their significance, including a broader range of viewpoints. In the video, young people discussed the matter of transgressive content online and what to do if that happens. They explained how interacting with the algorithm and tapping 'not interested' can prevent unpleasant content from appearing on their social media.

 

The educational material included the floor exercise: "Are you stepping off here? – or are you continuing to watch?" Using analogue examples from platforms, this exercise encouraged students to reflect on content, responsibility, and their boundaries regarding exposure to transgressive content. The exercise also prompted young individuals to reflect on when a platform should remove unpleasant content. Finally, students could play the board game "Tech Tactics", taking on the role of business leaders managing a company that is involved in data trading. This allowed students to step into business owners' shoes and make tactical decisions affecting competing companies. This educational material was created to enhance young individuals' understanding of algorithms and raise awareness about the influence of algorithms on their digital lives.

To learn more about the material, check the Resource Lab. Alternatively, discover more about the Danish Safer Internet Centre's work, including their awareness raising, helpline, hotline, and youth participation services. 

Related news