In public discourse, and in the governance of online communities, young people are often denied agency. Children are frequently considered objects to protect, safeguard, and manage. Yet as children go online from very early ages, they develop emergent forms of civic and political engagement. Children appropriate the affordances of digital platforms in order to discuss, connect, and act with their peers and in their communities. In this paper, we analyze civic engagement in Scratch Online, a creative community where children from around the world learn programming by designing and sharing interactive media projects. We explore the ways that young Scratch community members connect with issues of global importance, as well as with local topics and questions of community governance. We develop a typology of the strategies they use to express themselves, engage with their peers, and call for action. We then analyze the reaction of the community, including other Scratch members and adult moderators, and draw key lessons from these examples in order to describe guidelines for educators and designers who would like to support children’s rights to civic engagement in online learning environments.
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