Elza Dunkels is an assistant professor at Umeå University, in the very North of Sweden. She studies children’s and young people’s use of contemporary media from an educational perspective, including online safety, cyber bullying, and contemporary learning models. In Sweden, Dunkels is well known as a devoted and passionate defender of children’s rights to digital compentency. She is frequently engaged as a speaker at conferences, in-service training and as an expert by government agencies, NGOs and the media.
She has a background as a teacher in mathematics, geography and social science. After working in schools for 10 years, she joined the Teacher Education, teaching interactive media and learning. In 2007 Dunkels earned her PhD defending her thesis on young people’s net cultures – Bridging the Distance – Children’s Strategies on the Internet.
About my reserch
My research is not only my day job; it is also a way of life and, to be honest, my only hobby. I study young people’s internet cultures and adult’s attitudes towards these things. I am an expert on young people’s online safety, but I also study gender, children’s rights, net based learning models and informal learning. I pride myself in being a children’s rights activist and I think of my research, and my position in Academia as means of giving young people a voice.
How it all began
Ever since I had my first child, in 1985, my family has been priority number one for me. This kind of prioritizing would normally stop a woman from having a career in Academia but I found a way to beat the system. When I started my University career, I was the only female teacher at our department. I had the lowest salary of all, and my habit of leaving work early every second day to pick up my children did nothing to improve this (the Swedish way is to share parental leave and the responsibility for home and family equally between the parents). Because decisions seemed to be made when I had already left work I never got the chance to teach the interesting courses and thereby move forward in my career. But then I became interested in young people’s net cultures and I tried to find research about this, to use in our courses. This was in the late 1990’s and I couldn’t find anything useful. So I turned to my children and their friends, asking them about the internet and their thoughts on safety and learning. Together we created a website (the embryo of this website, in fact) which was used as course literature in our teacher education. This lead to me getting funded for doctoral studies and in 2007 I earned my PhD defending my thesis on young people’s net cultures. Today, I have a blossoming academic career, not in spite of having many children, but thanks to it. So, in your face, sexism!
Blog posts in English
Publications in English
Marklund, Leif & Dunkels, Elza (2016) Digital play as a means to develop children’s literacy and power in the Swedish preschool, Early Years, 36:3, 289-304.
Hällgren, Camilla, Dunkels, Elza & Frånberg, Gun-Marie, (Eds.) (2015) Invisible Boy: The making of contemporary masculinities. Umeå, Umeå University.
Dunkels, Elza (2014) Online Safety for Children. Media Development, WACC.
Dunkels, Elza, Frånberg, Gun-Marie & Hällgren, Camilla (Red.) (2012) Invisible Girl. Umeå universitet.
Dunkels, Elza, Frånberg, Gun-Marie & Hällgren, Camilla (Red.) (2011) Interactive Media Use and Youth: Learning, Knowledge Exchange and Behavior. Hershey: IGI Global. Mitt kapitel: Youth and Contemporary Learning.
Dunkels, Elza, Frånberg, Gun-Marie & Hällgren, Camilla (Red.) (2011) Youth Culture and Net Culture: Online Social Practices. Hershey: IGI Global. My chapter: Young People and Online Risk.
Dunkels, Elza (2010) The Kids Are Alright – perspectives on children’s online safety. I Carlsson, Ulla (Red.) Children and Youth in the Digital Media Culture. From a Nordic Horizon. Göteborg, Nordicom.
Lüders, Marika, Bae Brandtzæg, Petter & Dunkels, Elza (2009) Risky Contacts. I Livingstone, Sonia & Haddon, Leslie (Red.) Kids Online. London, Policy Press.
Wold, Thomas, Aristodemou, Elena, Laouris, Yiannis & Dunkels, Elza (2009) Inappropriate Content. I Livingstone, Sonia & Haddon, Leslie (Red.) Kids Online. London, Policy Press.
Dunkels, Elza, Gun-Marie Frånberg and Camilla Hällgren (2008) Young People and Contemporary Digital Arenas: Identity, Learning and Abusive Practices. Tidskrift för lärarutbildning och forskning, 2008(3/4). http://www.use.umu.se/digitalAssets/21/21025_lofu_3-4_08.pdf
Dunkels, Elza (2008) Children’s Strategies on the Internet. Critical Studies in Education, 49(2).http://korta.nu/a8f6
Dunkels, Elza (2007) Bridging the distance: children’s strategies on the internet. Doctoral thesis. Umeå University.
Dunkels, Elza, & Enochsson, AnnBritt (2007) One to one interviews with young people using online chat. I M. Quigley (Red.), Encyclopedia of information ethics and security. Hershey: Idea Group Reference.
Dunkels, Elza (2005) Young people’s net cultures. I C. Howard (Red.), Encyclopaedia of distance learning (Vol. 4, pp. 2067-2074). Hershey: Idea Group Reference.
Dunkels, Elza (2006) The digital native as a student – implications for teacher education. Tidskrift för lärarutbildning och forskning(1/2006), 43-56. http://www.kulturer.net/documents/lofu_nr1_2006_dunkels.pdf