Creating a Positive Foundation for Greater Civility in Online Spaces

Expert Ideas for Technology, Policy, and Education Innovations to Build a More Civil Online Ecosystem for and by Youth

In early 2023, the Digital Wellness Lab at Boston Children’s Hospital and leaders from Roblox got together to ask what would need to happen in technology innovation, policy, and education to make the online world a truly safe and civil space, especially for youth. Understanding that the solutions would require collective effort, we invited over 100 experts from around the globe and across disciplines to weigh in and workshop the challenge as members of the Civility Working Group.

Over eight sessions, the gathered experts addressed key topics of, and research about, online civility.
At the closing session, participants collaborated and debated to arrive at a final set of recommendations for technology leaders and policymakers seeking to build a more civil online world. This paper describes those recommendations, including:

  • Approach online civility from a youth-rights framework.
  • Involve youth meaningfully in the design of apps, platforms, policies, and resources.
  • Commit across the tech and media industries to co-create and adhere to policies that are positively framed and encourage growth.
  • Build platform onboarding processes that teach and activate civility-focused norms and expectations.
  • Design, deploy, and continually improve accessible civility resources.

Most significantly, the Civility Working Group concluded that the work is only just beginning and will require further research and greater integration of young people’s experiences and opinions to arrive at a true roadmap to a more civil online world.

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