Greater knowledge about the risks and opportunities of online societies

Four consortia will soon begin work as part of the NWA programme Vulnerability and resilience in an online society aimed at developing greater knowledge regarding the long-term effects of online societies. This knowledge will enable government departments and authorities to develop appropriate policies.

NWA programme Vulnerability and resilience in an online society

The aim of this thematic programme of the Dutch Research Agenda (NWA) is to develop knowledge for policies that help government departments and authorities deal appropriately with the long-term effects of digitisation of society.

Much of our lives takes place online, leading to a range of developments that affect citizens of all ages. How do we strengthen their resilience and what role can companies, organisations and public authorities play in the online society? The four research projects look at the risk of manipulation and violence, care and housing of the elderly, health, equality of opportunities and safety in Rotterdam, and needs of neurodiverse youth, among other things. Each project involves a diverse group of partners in the consortia.

Discover the assigned projects here

Mechanisms of vulnerability & resilience (MOVUS): (Re)designing digital organising in care & housing
Prof. J.C. (Elco) van Burg

Partners: Amsterdam UMC, Empyreal, ETH Zürich, Free University Amsterdam, Het Groene Brein, HAN University of Applied Sciences, Hanze University of Applied Sciences Groningen, Public Health Service of Amsterdam (GGD Amsterdam), Saxion University of Applied Sciences, Sigra, TU Eindhoven, Woonzorg NL, Zorgstichting ’t Heem, and Zuidoostzorg

MOVUS addresses a pressing issue in older persons' care and housing: how can digital transformation (i.e., online and offline organizing) truly serve people rather than harm them? MOVUS specifically aims to achieve the following scientific breakthroughs and societal impacts: 1) Understanding how digital transformation of care and housing processes affects different layers of vulnerability and resilience in care and housing recipients, and unearth the mechanisms that preserve, amplify, or create vulnerabilities and resilience. This helps housing and care organizations design effective work processes and make services more accessible. 2) Establishing a framework of legal and ethical conditions for a fair and inclusive online organization of services in the field of senior care and housing. 3) Designing solutions to enhance resilience through digitalization in the organization of senior care and housing. MOVUS comprises both a research phase and a design phase involving all stakeholders.


Reading between the lines
Prof. F.L. (Frank) van Lenthe

Partners: Erasmus MC Rotterdam, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Justice Adda, New Momentum, Perron 14, Rathenau Institute, and Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences

The online world and the real world increasingly overlap. Social media platforms seem to deepen differences between youth in terms of physical, mental, and social health. For instance, online advertisers are targeting vulnerable groups such as people with debts or poor health, and social media are used by some organizations to spread misinformation. We do not yet understand how online and offline worlds influence each other and thereby impact youths’ lives. Therefore, we aim to investigate how people in Rotterdam experience health, safety, and equal opportunities in both the online and offline world. To achieve that, we will connect a large health survey with state-of-the-art social media research. We will also explore how vulnerable people can help each other, ensuring everyone has equal opportunities in the online world. Our project will aid policymakers in creating a healthy, safe, and fair online world.


User vulnerabilities and Resilience on SOCIAL media platforms and the metaverse (RESOCIAL)
Dr mr G. (Gianclaudio) Malgieri

Partners: ALLAI Nederland, lliance for Digital Rights (AUDRI), Authority for Consumers and Markets, BEUC, Dutch DPA (Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens, Equality Now, "Future of Privacy Forum (Dutch branch)", Inholland University of Applied Sciences, International Observatory on Vulnerable People in Data Protection (VULNERA), Leiden University, Offlimits, SIDN Fonds, TU Delft, UNICEF Letter and University of Twente.

How can the legislators, in cooperation with civil society and companies, address human vulnerabilities and enhance resilience on social media? People increasingly live their social life online, with higher risks of manipulation, online violence and discrimination. Main causes of this are a lack of scientific methods to measure risks to fundamental rights online, the inadequacy of the Dutch and EU laws to enhance users' resilience, and the ineffective protection of vulnerable users. Through three complementary interdisciplinary pillars, RESOCIAL aims to assess vulnerabilities in social media platforms (incl. the metaverse and immersive technologies), analyse the gaps in existing hard- and soft- law, and – through co-design workshops- develop a legal solution (government guidelines for a vulnerability-aware implementation of the laws on social media), a design solution (“vulnerability-sensitive design”) and a business solution (vulnerability-aware codes of conduct for platforms)

DigAble: Media interventions and policies that match capacities and needs for neurodiverse youth
Prof. C. (Carlo) Schuengel

Partners: Free University Amsterdam, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Landelijk Kenniscentrum LVB/ Vereniging Orthopedagogische Behandelcentra (LKC LVB/VOBC), Leiden University of Applied Sciences,, Nederlands Jeugdinstituut, Ouderenvereniging Balans, Stichting Agora, Utrecht University and Windesheim University of Applied Sciences

The future for which youth are preparing is increasingly online. Society insufficiently considers that the brains of youth may develop in all sorts of ways. Youth with ADHD, autism, intellectual disability, or learning problems may be more vulnerable and less resilient to online risks and need help to reap benefits. This project first identifies what so-called 'neurodivergent' youth need to also become resilient and less vulnerable in an online society. We investigate what educators, teachers, and healthcare providers need to support these youth effectively, and what policymakers need. Secondly, we compile an overview of lesson packages, training courses, policies, and other interventions for digital literacy, media literacy, and online risk behavior. What are the building blocks of these interventions? And which building blocks are effective for neurodivergent youth also? Thirdly, we will work together with young people to ensure that interventions and policies are tailored to needs.

NWA seeks to establish connections with society

On behalf of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW), NWO funds research in the context of the Dutch Research Agenda (NWA). The aim of the NWA is to utilise knowledge to make a positive, structural contribution to the society of tomorrow, by building bridges today and jointly ensuring scientific and societal impact. Thematic programming in collaboration with authorities is one of the ways in which this is realised. The aim of the thematic NWA programmes is to find answers to urgent societal challenges. All of the research is set up in an interdisciplinary manner and involves the entire breadth of the knowledge chain as well as relevant social partners.