New Forms of Adolescent Voice and Agency Through ICT and Mobile Phone Use

This policy brief is based on the findings from a study conducted by BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) under the Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence (GAGE) Program. The study explores the implications, both positive and negative, of mobile phone and internet use for adolescent voice and agency. The study explores the differences in these implications, between adolescent boys and girls, between adolescents of well-off and poorer families, and between adolescents living in Dhaka city and those in Cumilla, a more rural district, respectively. The authors address voice and agency through indicators relevant for Bangladeshi adolescents, for e.g., developing relationships, accessing information that contributes to raising their voice and increasing decision-making capacity, learning new skills, developing online risk recognition and mitigation skills, and creating a sense of belonging to a larger virtual community. Finally, the study seeks to identify and understand the concerns of parents and teachers regarding risks such as cyberbullying, harassment, and the perceived social and moral degradation of the youth due to exposure to and use of online content. The study finds a divide in the ownership of digital devices and in internet access across class, location, and gender among adolescents, and although all adolescents have some access to mobile phones, the quality of access varies significantly. The study also concludes that access to the internet can contribute to adolescent voice and agency through building confidence. But in order to ensure that all adolescents can experience the potential of improved voice and agency through the internet, gatekeepers such as parents, teachers and the government have a key role to play.

Authors: Huq, Lopita; Sultan, Maheen; Khondoker, Zarine Anan 
Policy Brief
Year: 2020