Teens tackle big, bad internet at Tech Kids Unlimited hackathon - Technical.ly Brooklyn

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Mar. 27, 2018 10:33 am

Teens tackle big, bad internet at Tech Kids Unlimited hackathon

The event even featured a guest appearance by SNL comedian Kyle Mooney.

Comedian and SNL cast member Kyle Mooney talks internet optimism at lunchtime.

(Photo by Ellen Cranley)

The future of online policy and culture were central topics at digital agency T3’s second annual hackathon Sunday, which was dedicated to understanding and promoting positive online interactions.

The T3 Hackathon: Stand up for the Internet hosted approximately 50 participants between the ages of 14 and 21 for a day of research, discussion and projects. The effort focused on current issues with life online, a process T3 founder and event organizer Beth Rosenberg said was critical to shaping online interaction as a positive resource for the future.

We saw it in the [March For Our Lives] yesterday, how important it is for young people to be active and change the world,” Rosenberg said at the event’s opening remarks.

Rosenberg charged students with developing sharable images and games to spread information for online health and encourage others to take action. The final versions of these projects are saved and shared for future information and inspiration.

Coming off a major week for online privacy news and mounting debate over online conduct, this bootcamp of best practice basics served as a timely reminder that net neutrality, online privacy and digital citizenship issues affect everyone.

A group works with a demo practicing defeating hackers.

A group works with a demo practicing defeating hackers. (Photo by Ellen Cranley)

Students did the heavy lifting on getting to the bottom of these central issues with practice defeating hackers, net neutrality digital campaigns and programs to generate sample online interactions. For those who use the internet but didn’t spend Sunday examining and devising a plan for the future of internet health, here are some of the day’s key takeaways:

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  • Fair and free internet is still at risk. Net neutrality regulations are at risk of being rolled back as early as April 23 if a majority isn’t reached to pass through the U.S. Senate.
  • Personal information and bad attitudes should be kept offline. Model behavior in online communities after that of offline communities to avoid the consequences of putting too much online.

The day’s dose of internet optimism was rounded out with a special appearance by SNL comedian Kyle Mooney, who lauded the creative potential of the internet by discussing his experience finding success posting his early comedy work on YouTube.

This hackathon is the latest in year-round programming from Brooklyn-based nonprofit Tech Kids Unlimited. The technology education group founded by Rosenberg provides students with autism spectrum or other learning and social challenges with experience working on technology projects for clients.

“We provide a supportive, nurturing environment for them to learn, socialize and gain professional and technical experience,” said Tech Kids Unlimited Development Strategist Ellen Goldstein. “We try to make our programs as accessible as possible, and when the kids are together, it’s about much more than the technology.”

Volunteer Indira Ardolic presenting her group’s net neutrality digital campaigns. (Photo by Ellen Cranley)

Volunteer Indira Ardolic presenting her group’s net neutrality digital campaigns. (Photo by Ellen Cranley)

Hackathon staffers pose for a group shot. (Photo by Ellen Cranley)

Hackathon staffers pose for a group shot. (Photo by Ellen Cranley)

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