The key goal of the EWADA project is “to develop and deploy new forms of technical and legal infrastructure, to re-design and promote a more equitable and ethical treatment of individual users and collectives in a sustainable way”. One of the applications of this initiative is to explore how we can better support children and families’ data autonomy. In fact, digital technologies have become so deeply embedded in children’s everyday lives, providing vital access to educational, social, and entertainment experiences and resources. Children of this generation are often the early adopters of emerging services and technologies, having grown up as ‘digital natives’. This has raised concerns and questions about how digital environments including digital apps, systems, services, platforms and more, are affecting children’s well-being, and whether such environments adequately support their developmental needs.

From a human-centred point of view, two lead EWADA researchers (Dr Jun Zhao and [Ge Wang][]) explored what children and their families recognise as being supportive and ethical, how they would like these components to look like and what supports are needed. Our understandings about this topic have been furthered in this process, as captured by our two CHI’2023 paper:

  1. 12 Ways to Empower: Designing for Children’s Digital Autonomy pdf

In this paper, we examine existing HCI literature discussing definitions and designs for children’s digital autonomy. Our aim is to contribute an understanding of how digital autonomy for children is positioned in the current HCI community, and to identify how specific kinds of designs have been explored to support digital autonomy development in children. To do so, we conducted a systematic review of the use of autonomy-supportive design mechanisms in HCI research, with the goal of laying out its design space, specifically answering two research questions as follows: RQ1 - How does the HCI literature conceptualise digital autonomy for children? RQ2 - What autonomy-supportive design mechanisms have been explored in apps and systems for children? Our findings provide a critical understanding of current support for children’s digital autonomy in HCI. We highlight the importance of considering children’s digital autonomy from multi-perspectives, and suggest critical factors and gaps to be considered for future more autonomy-supportive designs.

2.”Treat me as your friend, not a number in your database’’: Co-designing with Children to Cope with Datafication Online pdf

Datafication refers to the practices through which children’s online actions are pervasively recorded, tracked, aggregated, analysed, and exploited by online services in ways including behavioural engineering and monetisation. Previous research has shown that not only do children care significantly about various aspects of datafication, but they demand a chance to take action. Through 10 co-design sessions with 53 children, we examined how children in the UK want to be supported to cope with the datafication practices. Our findings provide insights for creating age-appropriate support for children’s algorithmic literacy development, highlighting and unpacking the importance of no one-size-fitting-all designs to support children’s coping with datafication. We contribute a first understanding of how children aged 7–14 would like to be supported with datafication and what future data-driven digital experiences should be like for them, who demand a shift of the current data ecosystem towards a more humane-by-design and autonomy-supportive future.

Please follow the above links for further reading and contact the authors if you wish for further information.