Digital citizenship and digital equity, digital well-being and online resiliency, algorithms and artificial intelligence, online information ecosystems, digital media literacy education, and youth and technology.
Dr. Brisson-Boivin is the Director of Research at Mediasmarts, Canada’s Centre for Digital Media Literacy. Kara is responsible for the planning, methodology, implementation, and dissemination of key findings from original MediaSmarts’ research studies as well as evaluations of MediaSmarts’ programs. Kara researches the various impacts of digital technology and culture on digital citizenship, digital well-being, and online resiliency for Canadians broadly and youth in particular.
Kara works with a number of academic partners on tri-agency funded research projects, private and public sector groups, as well as federal departments on online issues including; digital equity and inclusion, privacy, online hate, mis/dis information, activism, and algorithms and artificial intelligence. She is the principal researcher on MediaSmarts’ Young Canadians in a Wireless World research project, which has been tracking young people’s experiences with online since 2000.
Kara brings to MediaSmarts extensive publication experience in academic journals, magazines, news op-eds and research blogs; and a background in presenting research to key stakeholders on parliamentary committees, at academic conferences, invited talks, panels, keynote addresses, and in media interviews.
Young Canadians in a Wireless World (Phase IV) (2019-2023)(Funded by CIRA - Canadian Internet Registration Authority) is Canada's longest running and more comprehensive research study on young people's attitudes and behaviours regarding the internet, surveying over 20, 000 parents, teachers and students since 2000. The study is currently in its fourth phase. In 2019, MediaSmarts' research team conducted focus groups to get a kid's-eye-view of what is working for young people online and what needs to be changed or improved so that they get the most out of their online experiences. Additional focus groups with parents helped to round out discussions about what is needed to foster (collective) online resiliency. This qualitative work helped up prepare for a quantitative survey conducted in 2021. Phase ICV of YCWW culminates in a series of research reports that will be published on the MediaSmarts website in 2022-2023.
Moving On: Digital Empowerment and Literacy Skills for Survivors (2022-2026)(Funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada, Addressing and Preventing Family Violence Program). Following an intervention research design, and in collaboration with partners in the family violence and violence against women sector across Canada (at the local, provincial/territorial and national levels), we will conduct focus groups to capture the digital media literacy needs of survivors and practitioners. Following this needs assessment, MediaSmarts will design, deliver, and evaluate a digital literacy program for survivors of family violence focusing on addressing technology-facilitated violence and abuse (or TFVA).
Reporting Platforms: Young Canadians Evaluate Efforts to Counter Disinformation (2022-2023):(Funded by the Department of Canadian Heritage - Digital Citizenship Contribution Program) MediaSmarts will design and facilitate a series of interactive focus groups with youth ages 13 to 29 from across Canada to evaluate the efficacy of efforts by platforms to counter disinformation and other online harms. This qualitative research project intentionally positions youth as stakeholders to be actively involved in the assessments of current approaches and the design of new policies, methods, and tools to mitigate harm in online spaces. This project will contribute to knowledge on countering disinformation and will reflect the needs and concerns of young Canadians who are particularly active online but whose experiences and insights are often missing from conversations about how to mitigate against the potential impacts of disinformation and other related online harms.
*From Access to Engagement: A Digital Media Literacy Strategy for Canada (Funded by the Department of Canadian Heritage - Digital Citizenship Contribution Program) In February 2022, MediaSmarts hosted a symposium that brought together key stakeholders and community partners from across Canada who share an interest in developing and implementing a national digital media literacy strategy. We also conducted interviews with key informants from Canada and international jurisdictions about their experiences working on digital and media literacy frameworks. This project confirms the need for a commitment from the federal government to support the development, implementation, and evaluation of a national digital media literacy strategy through appropriate investments in the community and ongoing engagement that fosters collaboration and innovation and addresses digital equity and inclusion.
Algorithms, AI, and Awareness Conversations with Young Canadians about Artificial Intelligence and Privacy (2021)(Funded by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner)MediaSmarts conducted focus groups with youth ages 13 to 17 to gain insight into yhow young Canadians understand the relationships between artificial intelligence (AI), algorithms, privacy, and data protection. Participants played a game prototype designed by MediaSmarts' education team, and a scaffolded learning experience allowed for in-depth discussion after each of the three phases of gameplay. These conversations highlight the while youth understand and appreciate the benefits of recommendation algorithms, they are troubled by algorithmic data collection and data sharing practices. This research is a call for more algorithmic literacy tools and resources that will give youth the knowledge they need to protect themselves and their information in digital spaces.
*Young Canadians Speak Out: A Qualitative Study on Privacy and Consent (2020): (Funded by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner)MediaSmarts conducted focus groups with young Canadians ages 13 to 16 in Ottawa, giving them the chance to consider, discuss and design ways of obtaining consent online that are clear and meaningful to them. As part of the focus groups, youth were asked to share their thoughts on and experiences with current online consent processes. They were then asked to come up with hand-drawn 'paper prototypes' of their ideal privacy policies. Findings offered creative new ideas on how platforms can improve online consent processes - not just for young people, but for everyone - so Canadians can better understand what they're agreeing to when it comes to their privacy.
Young Canadians Pushing Back Against Hate Online (2019):(Funded by Public Safety Canada, Community Resilience Fund)MediaSmarts conducted a survey of 1,000 youth ages 12 to 16 years old to better understand their attitudes and experiences with online hate; specifically, the motivations and external factors that influence their decisions whether or not to intervene. Study results uncover that youth do not respond because they don't know what to do to make a difference. This research is a call for more effective interventions that will prepare, engage, and empower youth to push back against hate online.
Brisson-Boivin, Kara (2022). Testimony on the: Rise of Ideologically Motivated Violence Extremism. House of Commons Standing Committe on Public Safety and National Security (SECU)
Brisson-Boivin, Kara (2022). "Five Ways to be a Better Digital Citizen." The Agenda with Steve Paikin.
Brisson-Boivin, Kara (2022). "Digital Citizen Day: What we do online matters." The Walrus Talks at Home - Digital Citizenship.
Brisson-Boivin, Kara (2022). "Seeing Queer Kids in the Media." The Agenda with Steve Paikin.
Brisson-Boivin, Kara. (2021). “Digital Media Literacy: Influence and Empathy.” The future of speech online-Balancing free expression and navigating harmful content. The Walrus Talks at Home.
Brisson-Boivin, Kara and Samantha McAleese. (2021). “Young Canadians Speak Out: Considerations for Privacy and Cybersecurity in Canada.” Smart Cybersecurity Network (SERENE-RISK).
Brisson-Boivin, Kara and Samantha McAleese. (2021). “How digital literacy can help close the digital divide.” Policy Options. April.
Brisson-Boivin, Kara (2021). "General Comment No. 25 (2021) on children's rights in relation to the digital environment." United Nations Statement.
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