Funded Projects

There has been little evaluation of online privacy, Internet safety, and other digital literacy education programs. Program and campaign developers must look to other fields, such as public health, to identify communication strategies and messages that are effective at changing behavior. The Foundation identified a need for a practical review of this literature that is written for developers working on online privacy initiatives. The Foundation funded three projects to develop white papers on the current evidence base for communications strategies to effect behavior or social norm change among youth. The audience for these papers will be online privacy education program and media campaign developers. The goal is to make it easier for these developers to integrate evidence-based messages into their work.

All project summaries were written by grantees.

Grantee: Boston Children’s Hospital, Center on Media and Child Health
Project: Privacy is as Privacy Does

Privacy is as Privacy Does: Bringing Evidence-Based Behavior Change Strategy to Digital Safety will examine public health communication strategies and behavior change theories that aim to shift social norms among youth. By performing a thorough review of the research, this report will analyze both successful and unsuccessful techniques from a variety of public health campaigns, in an attempt to highlight best practices that appeal to youth. In particular, research shows that programs that provide youth with the tools they need in order to shift behavior toward a specific outcome, rather than try to frighten them away from a risky behavior, are ultimately more successful. These and other best practices will then be applied to digital privacy issues, in order to help health practitioners design worthwhile delivery methods while understanding the underlying pedagogy. This report will provide a solid, evidence-based foundation that will serve public health practitioners as they develop, implement, and evaluate programs that aim to empower youth to protect themselves online.

Grantee: University of California, Berkeley, Institute of Human Development
Project: Towards the development of effective online privacy messaging: Lessons from youth health campaigns

With the increasing ubiquitousness of online communication platforms, youth (children, adolescents and young adults) are now sharing their private information online to an ever greater extent. These trends are increasing the risk of third-parties accessing sensitive information about youth for their own purposes. Effective online safety campaigns aimed at improving youth’s online privacy behavior can benefit greatly from contemporary psychological, communication, and developmental theories and practices. As a critical step to advancing this goal, we will a) review the successes and failures of past youth health communication campaigns; b) apply a broad transdisciplinary perspective on behavior change and social motivation in youth; and c) disseminate this information to practitioners, youth policy makers, and key stakeholders in ways that will help to avoid replicating commonly made mistakes and instead inform the development and implementation of effective strategies to impact of future Internet safety efforts in youth.

Grantee: University of New Hampshire, Crimes Against Children Research Center
Project: Online Privacy Messaging Best Practices White Paper

This project will summarize research relevant to crafting effective education strategies and messaging when developing youth privacy education programs and campaigns. Specifically, the resulting white paper will provide recommendations across two areas: 1) defining education outcomes and research-based program theory when developing and targeting privacy education initiatives; and 2) drawing from best practices identified in research on related areas of youth public education and prevention campaigns. We will present summaries on these two topics and provide translatable recommendations for a range of audiences including program developers, technology experts, educators, and policy makers.