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Media Literacy for Unaccompanied Refugee Youth - A Path to Integration

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MedLitRefYouth (Media Literacy for Unaccompanied Refugee Youth - A Path to Integration)

Okres sprawozdawczy: 2017-09-01 do 2019-08-31

Between 2015 - 2018, there were more than 200,000 unaccompanied minors among asylum seekers registered in the EU. The main bulk of research focusing on the European migration crisis dealt with adult refugees’ digital media usage while on route. However, the journey does not end upon arrival, and for those coming without families, the road ahead is even more challenging. Unaccompanied children have to navigate through European public systems & cultures. This research project aimed to discover how unaccompanied minor refugees are using digital technology. This very important group has only just recently started to being addressed in academia. The overall objective of this project was to provide in-depth description of unaccompanied refugee children’s media use for developing educational tools that will enable them to become media literate and civically connected. The complimentary objectives of the research project: to improve the Fellow’s long term career outlook and to extend the host institution’s research capabilities. The final results of this project show that unaccompanied refugee youth has a complex relationship with digital technologies and social media. Our findings conclude that this relationship is influenced by many different conditions, such as the children's prior access to these technologies, their education level, or their language and digital skills. We found that mentors& guardians can have a major role in educating refugee kids on issues connected to media literacy. Therefore we created an app (Mentor + Media) that provides relevant answers to the most pressing issues refugee children face online;it also features a curated list of further resources that NGO experts can use for tackling issues such as cyberbullying or fake news.
WP1: I started a consultation with academics working in the field of migration studies and media literacy. I handed in my ethics application to the university’s Ethics Committee. I attended a total of 3 meetings with the Ethics Committee throughout the project, as we wanted to make sure that the safeguarding of the research participants is being thoroughly covered. I contacted Nidos, the NGO in charge of guardianship in the Netherlands, the country of the pilot study. Based on these discussion, I created the interview guide and the online media diary. The online media diary was then tested with young people from the UK.
WP2: I carried out the pilot, which proved to be extremely useful, as it turned out that we need to reconfigure the online media diary because some young people were illiterate, others were reluctant to fill in a diary about their media use. Some did not understand how this site worked. I then optimized the study protocols. Instead of this online media diary, together with an artist we created 2 board games that I later used in the fieldwork.
WP3: I carried out the fieldwork in Italy and Sweden. By working with NGOs, volunteers and municipalities in these 2 countries, I gathered data both from kids and their mentors/social workers. The interactive board games offered a new experience to these children who were used to formal interviewing situations. 56 unaccompanied refugee children were interviewed.
WP4: I returned to BU for systematising the data gathered. This WP was also used to plan the secondment. In the proposal, we planned to have the secondment at RefugeeYouth. However, this organisation eventually decided to withdraw, and I found another organisation open for collaborating: Young Roots from London.
WP5: I got immersed in the activities organised by the charity. I optimised the PAR plan with the NGO expert. We organised a workshop where the young migrants were trained in interviewing. They then interviewed their own peers on topics related to media literacy. After 1 month, we regathered to discuss their findings and to see what were those topics that the young people considered most important in terms of (social) media use. The workshop ended with a visit to the BBC in London.
WP6: I returned to BU for analysing the data gathered.
WP7: Based on our findings and the feedback and data gathered from the young migrants at Young Roots, we worked on creating new media literacy educational materials. We designed an app that can be used by mentors/educators/guardians who work with refugee kids. This decision was influenced by the research experience and the findings of the project. Because of the heterogeneity of the group of unaccompanied minors, the best solution for helping them in becoming more media literate, was to carry out this education through the people whom they spend the most time with. The Mentor + Media app offers short and practical answers to the most pressing issues concerning (social) media use. Beyond these, there is a curated repository of resources that social workers can use. And finally, the app also lists the main organisations working with unaccompanied refugee kids across Europe.

Exploitation and dissemination of results: 3 articles have already been written, with two of them being published and one in press. Another article on the digital ethnography phase is under review in the International Journal of Cultural Studies. With my mentor we are currently editing a special issue, which will appear next year in the peer-reviewed journal Interactions: Studies in Communication & Culture. I am now in talks with Routledge on the possibility to publish a book within the new series called Routledge Research in Media Literacy and Education.
I also attended international conferences in Europe and Asia, where I presented the research findings.
In terms of public engagement, I wrote blog posts throughout these 2 years which can be accessed through the project website. With my mentor we gave an interview for the Horizon magazine. I was interviewed for the Bournemouth Research Chronicle and by the Tempos Dixital magazine. I gave a presentation at a Café Scientifique event. For making the research findings more understandable for the public, I collaborated with an artist to create an illustration. We published an article in The Conversation.This article then appeared in the Metro magazine.
If previous projects dealt with mostly adult migrants, this current project focused on a very specific group of young people and added novel aspects to the field of digital migration studies. The findings show a complex and often contradictory relationship these children have with digital tools. While many of these youth have access to smart phones, their use is in many occasions limited to fairly basic functions (communication or entertainment). The interviews showed that many of the young people do not know how these tools can be used for learning purpose and that their relationship with digital technologies is influenced by their prior education, access to these tools and by the support they receive from adults in the receiving country. Impact: we aimed to gather this data not only for academic purposes, but to build this knowledge into media literacy education materials. Thus we created an app, which is specifically aimed at mentors/educators who work with refugee kids. With some kids being illiterate, while others being very skilled, the best solution to provide media literacy tools was to reach out to mentors/guardians. This app was designed with the help of the unaccompanied kids, but it also considered the feedback of mentors.