OF DESIGNING FOR CHILDREN
WITH CHILDREN’S RIGHTS & ETHICS
1. Everyone can play
2. Give me control and offer support
3. I have purpose so make my influence matter
4. Offer me something safe
5. Create space for play (including a choice to chill)
6. Encourage me to be active and play with others
7. Give me room to explore and experiment
8. Use communication I can relate to
9. Make it flexible for me
10. You don’t know me, so make sure you include me
Supporting well-being and healthy psychological and cognitive development
1. I want my child to be safe at any time.
Have you taken physical safety into account?
- Provide safe environments, that both children and their parents can trust at any time.
- Install age-appropriate mechanisms that prevent children from sharing information that might harm them now or later on.
- Pay particular attention to these issues if designing a social media platform.
- Provide a safe encryption mechanism, so the children’s data is safe at any time.
- Consider the child’s body and how your product might impact on them physically
at different developmental stages of their life.
2. I want your product to consider my child’s balanced life.
- Your product needs to be considered in terms of the child’s general well-being and needs in terms of diet, sleep, physical activity and education as well as sexual development.
- Co-create throughout with parents and child developmental experts – involve them in the design process.
- Respect the recommended and age-appropriate content and amount of time of usage.
- Always consider the effects content and time of usage might have on the child – avoid mechanisms that lead to addiction or over-use.
3. Give my child quality content that fits their developmental stage.
and development of the user?
- Provide only age-appropriate content and design for appropriate speed and pause.
Find out what your age group is like: what they like to do; how they perceive their reality;
how they process visual and verbal information.
- Pay attention to the next developmental level (learning motivation)
- Make sure the content is not harmful. Take into account the tone of voice, e.g. in feedback messages, and in failing. Create positive competition.
4. Encourage my child to be active and play with others.
- Inspire open-ended play that grows their creative confidence.
- Encourage physical play, social play.
- Stimulate reflection and active problem-solving – kickstarting their imagination.
5. Involve my child, their family, and experts in the making.
- The children are the real experts, and their perspective should drive design development.
- Co-create throughout with kids, parents and experts – involve them in the design process.
- Validate final product in test groups and with experts before launching it.
6. Strengthen my child’s sense and development of self.
- Always design for diversity and inclusion.
- Develop curiosity-stimulating role models – experiences that stimulates reflection.
- Help the child better understand itself in relation to others, and make it natural for it to set its own limits, develop and transform, as it’s understanding of the world around it grows.
7. Consider that my child is unique and has different needs and capabilities.
- Consider children’s individual physical and cultural characteristics; functional abilities;
- different genders; family structures; age differences.
- Think about children with disabilities or accessibility problems; how would they use your product?
- Don’t limit children in who they are, let them express themselves creatively.
8. I want this product to be non-exploitative, ethical and socially responsible.
- Don’t exploit the child, or children’s behaviour, in any way.
- Consider the child’s developmental stage; can your design have a positive impact?
- Designing shouldn’t be just for sales. Be clear who benefits most from the product:
your business, the parents, or the child and their peers?
- Did you consider different, more appropriate, business models (e.g. open source)?
9. Remember, I am the parent. Involve me in the making and teach me about your product.
- Educate the parents; help them understand what the product is about.
- Make it clear if there is any risks regarding the child’s data security or privacy.
- Give clear recommendations on age limits.
- Consider that the content can affect the child’s emotional state in different levels.
Is there any sensitive material or scenarios that may emotionally affect the child?
How can parents protect or support their child when using the product?
10. I want the product to support my child’s health and well-being.
- Consider the child’s different development stages: cognitive, neurological, well-being.
Involve experts working with children, if needed.
- Design your product to help the child have a healthy daily rhythm (such as eating, sleeping, waking up, having fresh air, doing physical activity etc.). Help the child be creative. Encourage the child to be physically active.
- Consider the option to be part of a community. Have you designed the product to be used in the real world, as part of the family or group of friends?
Nurturing the child as a social being and a citizen
Help children develop intrinsic motivation to engage in meaningful experiences. Let children define their own objectives, without necessarily constraining your design to entirely become goal-oriented.
External rewards can hinder children’s sense of purpose, while a personal, deep motivation can help them get the most out of what they experience. Whether you are designing a product or service or other artifact, make sure children understand its value and can make it their own. When an end user values a product they are more likely to engage with it and express positive feelings about it.
Children’s sense of purpose evolves as they grow older and may range from performing simple actions to accomplishing complex tasks.
Design for multiple levels of participation and engagement. Let the user choose how they want to participate and to what level.
Learning and development come from both observation and participation. A healthy community includes introverts and extroverts and should accommodate all. Kids have different levels of confidence and experience but all should be welcome and accommodated.
The meaning, function and requirements of a participatory experience change for different age ranges as children’s confidence, identity and awareness of privacy develop.
Give the user the tools they need to adapt the product for their particular needs. Tell them how their choices may affect the product and inform them of the options available to them.
If you don’t force the users into a specific behaviour but allow them to explore and express in their own way they can grow with your design.
A product that tailors itself to the user increases engagement, retention and sense of ownership.
Design with exploration and curiosity in mind. Facilitate a child’s desire to learn and discover.
Ensure the content is delivered in a format accessible to all potential users. That will help to maximise your potential user base.
Be mindful of the child’s surrounding context: for example functional varity, social economic environment, the type of media and platform they use for access.
Be transparent about the strategic and business choices on user data management and inclusion.
Create an environment that expects responsibility and helps the users to form that community.
Allow your users the freedom to experiment, fail and understand the consequences. The older they are the less guidance they are likely to need.
An intuitive product fosters engagement.
Make sure your design respect children’s right to define their identity and encourages and supports them in doing so.
As they grow, children develop a more and more articulated understanding of themselves in relation to other people, family member, peers or other individuals within the same social context. Relating to role models and interacting with others can help children form their identity.
Allowing a user to form and change identity within a product fosters loyalty, familiarity and ownership.
Create an inclusive product that does not discriminate against characteristics such as gender, age, functional variety, ethnicity, socio-economic status and race.
Don’t make assumptions about your user base, research the needs of the audience and ensure they can be accommodated, or risk excluding users. Accessibility could be the unique offer that lifts your product above the competition.
Diversity is a unique possibility to introduce children to new perspectives.
Be mindful about how the surrounding context is portrayed. Avoid stereotyping!
Define and establish a safe environment for participation.
Consider all potential forms of participation: active participation vs. observation. Regarding data collection: ensure privacy is respected (COPPA and other legal requirements), and only collect information essential to product use. Provide age and role appropriate information about product use, and how information regarding product use will be used and stored.
Parents are increasingly concerned with safety issues, ensuring your product exceeds their expectations will differentiate you from competing products.