Thematic Areas

The DCRP offers tools around several areas of youth life important to understand as one navigates connected learning environments and the broader digital world. Each DCRP tool is tagged with its primary thematic area. Given the highly interconnected nature of the areas provided below, the vast majority of tools fall under a secondary theme(s).


Artificial Intelligence (AI): The ability to understand the algorithms involved in the AI-based platforms one interacts with, and the ethical conversations happening around the development of these technologies.


Civic and Political Engagement: The ability to participate in public matters (e.g., LGBTQ rights; peace building; addressing hate speech) and advocate for issues one cares about — using digital and non-digital tools — ideally to improve the quality of life in one’s community, from micro to macro levels (Levine, 2007).


Computational Thinking: The ability to understand and apply computational concepts, practices, and perspectives. Computational concepts include concepts individuals leverage as they program (e.g., “sequencing,” or identifying a set of steps for a task; “loops,” or running the same series of steps multiple times). Computational practices represent the practices individuals cultivate while they program (e.g., “experimenting and iterating;” “reusing and remixing,” or creating something by building upon current ideas or projects). Finally, computational perspectives refer to the perspectives individuals develop about themselves, their connections to others (such as  within the context of collaborative online communities), and the technological world more broadly (e.g., “connecting,” or understanding the power of developing content both with and for others) (Brennan & Resnick, 2012).


Content Production: The ability to produce (digital) content using (digital) tools.


Context: The ability to be aware of, understand, and interpret the contextual factors of relevance (e.g., cultural, social, local/regional/global) in a given situation — with a particular emphasis on the experiences and perspectives of underrepresented groups, whether in terms of age, ethnicity, race, gender and sexual identity, religion, national origin, location, skill and educational level, and/or socioeconomic status — and effectively engage in the situation.


Data: The ability to be aware of, create, collect, represent, evaluate, interpret, and analyze data from digital and non-digital sources.


Digital Access: The ability to connect to and access the Internet, individually or collectively (e.g., mesh technologies).


Digital Economy: The ability to navigate economic activities online and offline to earn different forms of economic, social, and/or cultural capital (e.g., earning money, increasing social connections, building personal brands).


Digital (Literacy): The ability to use the Internet and other digital tools and platforms effectively to find, interact with, evaluate, create, and reuse information (Palfrey & Gasser, 2016). The ability to comprehend and work through conceptual problems in digital spaces (Carretero, Vuorikari, & Punie, 2017).


Identity Exploration and Formation: The ability to use (digital) tools to explore elements of one’s identity, and understand how the communities one is part of shape one’s identity.


Information Quality: The ability to find, interact with, evaluate, create, and reuse information (broadly speaking; e.g., news, health information, personal information) effectively (Palfrey & Gasser, 2016).


Law: The ability to engage with legal frameworks, concepts, and theories surrounding the Internet and other digital tools (e.g., copyright; fair use), and the ability to apply these frameworks to one’s activities.


Media (Literacy): The ability to analyze, evaluate, circulate, and create content in any media form (e.g., print, visual, interactive, audio), and to participate in communities and networks. “Media literacies,” in the plural, include “media literacy” (Hobbs, 2010), what some researchers have conceptualized as “new literacies” (Lankshear & Knobel, 2007), and “new media literacies” (Jenkins, Clinton, Purushotma, Robison, & Weigel, 2006). That is, they encompass literacy approaches that not only focus on individual engagement with media (media literacy) but also competencies that address community involvement and participatory cultures. “Media literacies” also include literacies such as reading and writing.


Positive/Respectful Behavior: The ability to interact with others (both individuals and the larger collective) online in a respectful, ethical, socially responsible, and empathic manner.


Privacy and Reputation: The ability to protect one’s personal information online, and that of others. An understanding of the digital “trail” left behind as a result of the activities one engages in online, the short- and long-term consequences of this trail, the appropriate management of one’s virtual footprint, as well as an understanding of inferred data (i.e., new data derived from capturing and analyzing other data points, which may result in new knowledge about a person (van der Hof, 2016)). 


Safety and Well-being: The ability to counteract the risks that the digital world may come with to protect one’s physical and mental well-being (e.g., guarding against Internet addiction and repetitive stress syndrome). Online risks can be classified along three main dimensions: conduct (e.g., cyberbullying, sexual harassment/unwelcome “sexting”); contact (e.g., face-to-face meeting after online contact, communication with individuals pretending to be another person); and content (e.g., exposure to pornographic content, violent or aggressive content, harmful speech, content about drugs, racist content) (Livingstone, Kirwall, Ponte, & Staksrud, 2014).


Security: The ability to protect the integrity of one’s information, digital devices and assets (e.g., login information such as passwords, profiles, and websites).  





Brennan, K., & Resnick, M. (2012). New frameworks for studying and assessing the development of computational thinking. In Proceedings of the 2012 annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association. Vancouver, Canada.


Carretero, S., Vuorikari, R., & Punie, Y. (2017). DigComp 2.1: The digital competence framework for citizens with eight proficiency levels and examples of use. Retrieved from Publications Office of the European Union website:


Hobbs, R. (2010). Digital and media literacy: A plan of action. A white paper on the digital and media literacy recommendations of the Knight Commission on the information needs of communities in a democracy.  Washington, DC: The Aspen Institute.


Jenkins, H., Clinton, K., Purushotma, R., Robison, A. J., & Weigel, M. (2006). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. Chicago, IL: MacArthur Foundation


Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2007). Researching new literacies: Web 2.0 practices and insider perspectives. E- Learning and Digital Media, 4(3), 224- 240. doi: 10.2304/elea.2007.4.3.224


Levine, P. (2007). The Future of Democracy: Developing the Next Generation of American Citizens. Medford, MA: Tufts University Press.


Livingstone, S., Kirwall, L., Ponte, C., &  Staksrud, E. (2014). In their own words: What bothers children online? European Journal of Communication, 29(3), 271-288. doi: 10.1177/0267323114521045


van der Hof, S. (2016). I agree, or do I? A rights-based analysis of the law on children’s consent in the digital world. Wisconsin International Law Journal, 34(2), 409-445. Retrieved from