Ethical Development Program
VFFF has a long standing interest in ethics and in 2016 a VFFF working group set an ambitious goal: Young teenagers use communications technology ethically. In 2017, VFFF launched the Code for Online Decision & Ethics (CODE) program in partnership with the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT), to find a way to meet this goal and help answer one of the pressing questions facing society: how can we spur the ethical development of young people and do so in a world of rapid technological change?
The backdrop to this work is an international debate about technology and ethics that has taken on new intensity. The effects of technology on mental health and educational outcomes are gathering sustained attention from policymakers.
Capturing the voices of young people was a centrepiece of this work in 2018. The #NoFilterForum that took place in April 2018 gave 60 young people aged 12-16 years a unique opportunity to have their views heard. This forum considered the question: how can we make good choices in an online world? As captured in this video, young people grapple with and care about these choices:
The Forum underlined that there is currently a gap for solutions which foreground young people’s ethical development, rather than narrowly focusing on reducing cyber-risks. Working with potential delivery partners, the Top Blokes Foundation and the Alannah and Madeline Foundation, the Behavioural Insights Team have now designed three interventions that will be piloted in 2018/19:
Formative Conversations – aims to spark conversations between parents and their children about a range of challenging ethical issues.
Controlling the Online Environment – will help young people reflect on their relationship with technology and specific apps, and help them make practical changes to their online environment.
Social Compass – addresses a question that young people ask a lot but rarely get a good answer to: how can they handle complex online conflicts without things getting out of hand?
VFFF is excited by this work and its potential to transform the way young people interact in their online environments.