University of Oulu

Iivari, N. (2020), "Empowering children to make and shape our digital futures – from adults creating technologies to children transforming cultures", International Journal of Information and Learning Technology, Vol. 37 No. 5, pp. 279-293.

Empowering children to make and shape our digital futures : from adults creating technologies to children transforming cultures

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Author: Iivari, Netta1
Organizations: 1INTERACT Research Unit, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.2 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Emerald, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-12-10


Purpose: Digital technology education of children needs to be reconsidered. The purpose of this paper is to focus on empowering the young generation as regards digital technology. Digital technology education should reap the benefits of recent developments brought in by extensive, ongoing digitalization and prepare the young generation to manage and master in their technology rich future. The recent COVID 19 pandemic has made this particularly relevant and visible in the society. The young generation should adopt a proactive and critical stance toward digital technology and consider how design and technology can be used for making the world a better place.

Design/methodology/approach: This commentary reviews literature on the complex concept of empowerment and suggests a model on the aspects to be considered when aiming at empowering the young generation as regards digital technology in the context of digital technology education.

Findings: A model is proposed that comprehensively addresses empowerment of children as regards digital technology both at individual and collective levels and in mainstream sense as a relational and motivational construct as well as in critical sense in terms of collective empowerment, social responsibility and liberation of the oppressed.

Research limitations/implications: Radical renewal in the children’s education is needed in the digital age. This model outlines aspects to be considered in such a transformation. The insights should be valuable for research communities addressing the topic of children’s education in the digital age in general or the topic of children’s digital technology education in particular.

Practical implications: The model should also be of help for practitioners, i.e. teachers and facilitators working in informal learning spaces for developing children’s digital education in practice.

Social implications: The commentary addresses significant societal issues. It is actually not only children who should be empowered to engage in making and shaping our digital futures, but people in general. The model provides novel and valuable insights on what aspects to consider in such a significant endeavor.

Originality/value: The model proposed is novel and clearly needed in the research addressing this topic.

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Series: International journal of information and learning technology
ISSN: 2056-4880
ISSN-E: 2056-4899
ISSN-L: 2056-4880
Volume: 37
Issue: 5
Pages: 279 - 293
DOI: 10.1108/IJILT-03-2020-0023
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 113 Computer and information sciences
516 Educational sciences
Funding: This study was funded by Academy of Finland (Grant #324685, Make-a-Difference project).
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 324685
Detailed Information: 324685 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © Netta Iivari. Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article (for both commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence may be seen at