Both parents and children can lack awareness of the data collection practices used by third-party services and their impact on privacy. The lack of transparent data management on websites can exacerbate this situation, highlighting the need for a user-friendly system that affords user autonomy within online spaces. The ICO's new Age Appropriate Design Code aims to regulate online services for children more effectively. However, as a new piece of legislation, the ICO lacked examples of how technology companies could implement the code.
Therefore, we worked with the ICO to prototype a solution that involves a built-in educational tool for operating systems. The intervention focuses on children aged 7-11 within the iOS platform. However, the intervention can equally apply to alternative operating systems and other demographic groups with slight adjustments. We chose the 7-11 age to target Piaget's concrete operational stage of developmental psychology and complement the Key Stage 2 ICT curriculum.
The main features include a personalised interface to capture user attention and increase engagement; distinct animations to indicate when personal, locational or behavioural data is requested; and an optional guided overlay to indicate how to delete all personal data and disable data sharing to third parties.
Since research indicates that autonomy-supportive parental action is advantageous over control-based action in the context of data awareness, the tool was designed as an instructive intervention, educating and highlighting the importance of data awareness without restricting online activity. Through this tool, children can be afforded greater dignity within online spaces and learn how to manage risky situations more effectively.
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