Migration has been a part of the human experience since the dawn of time, and populations have always moved in search of resources and better conditions. Today, unaccompanied children and youth are an integral part of national and global migration patterns, often leaving their place of origin due to violence, conflict, abuse, or other rights violations, or simply to seek better opportunities for themselves.
It is estimated that 33 million (or some 16 percent) of the total migrant population today is younger than age 20. Child and adolescent migrants make up a significant proportion of the total population of migrants in Africa (28 percent), Asia (21 percent), Oceania (11 percent), Europe (11 percent), and the Americas (10 percent).
The issue of migration is central to the current political debate as well as to the development discussion, especially in conversations about the “post 2015” agenda. Though many organizations are working to improve children’s well-being in their home communities, prevention work with children and youth is not likely to end migration. Civil society organizations, together with children and youth, government, community members, and other stakeholders can help make migration safer and more productive for those young people who do end up on the move.
As the debate around migration rages, access to and use of ICTs is expanding exponentially around the globe. For this reason Plan International USA and the Oak Foundation felt it was an opportune time to take stock of the ways that ICTs are being used in the child and youth migration process.
Our new report, “Modern Mobility: the role of ICTs in child and youth migration” takes a look at:
- how children and youth are using ICTs to prepare for migration; to guide and facilitate their journey; to keep in touch with families; to connect with opportunities for support and work; and to cope with integration, forced repatriation or continued movement; and
- how civil society organizations are using ICTs to facilitate and manage their work; to support children and youth on the move; and to communicate and advocate for the rights of child and youth migrants.
In the Modern Mobility paper, we identify and provide examples of three core ways that child and youth migrants are using new ICTs during the different phases of the migration process:
- for communicating and connecting with families and friends
- for accessing information
- for accessing services
We then outline seven areas where we found CSOs are using ICTs in their work with child and youth migrants, and we offer some examples:
Though we were able to identify some major trends in how children and youth themselves use ICTs and how organizations are experimenting with ICTs in programming, we found little information on the impact that ICTs and ICT-enabled programs and services have on migrating children and youth, whether positive or negative. Most CSO practitioners that we talked with said that they had very little awareness of how other organizations or initiatives similar to their own were using ICTs. Most also said they did not know where to find orientation or guidance on good practice in the use of ICTs in child-centered programming, ICTs in protection work (aside from protecting children from online risks), or use of ICTs in work with children and young people at various stages of migration. Most CSO practitioners we spoke with were interested in learning more, sharing experiences, and improving their capacities to use ICTs in their work.
Based on Plan Finland’s “ICT-Enabled Development Guide” (authored by Hannah Beardon), the Modern Mobility report provides CSOs with a checklist to support thinking around the strategic use of ICTs in general.
We also offer a list of key considerations for practitioners who wish to incorporate new technologies into their work, including core questions to ask about access, age, capacity, conflict, connectivity, cost, disability, economic status, electricity, existing information ecosystems, gender, information literacy, language, literacy, power, protection, privacy, sustainability, and user-involvement.
Our recommendation for taking this area forward is to develop greater awareness and capacity among CSOs regarding the potential uses and risks of ICTs in work with children and youth on the move by:
- Establishing an active community of practice on ICTs and children and youth on the move.
- Mapping and sharing existing projects and programs.
- Creating a guide or toolbox on good practice for ICTs in work with children and youth on the move.
- Further providing guidance on how ICTs can help “normal” programs to reach out to and include children and youth on the move.
- Further documentation and development of an evidence base.
- Sharing and distributing this report for discussion and action.
We’d love comments and feedback, and information about examples or documentation/evidence that we did not come across while writing the report!