A 2019 UNICEF study found that globally, about 1 in 3 Internet users is younger than 18. Parents let preschool children use their smartphones and tablets to stream shows and play games. School-age youngsters are online more lately because of remote learning that schools began offering during the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools have become accustomed to relying on technology, which in some cases has made teaching easier, more efficient, and more inclusive. In some schools, computers have replaced notebooks and textbooks.
Some regulations regarding children’s privacy on the Internet were written more than 20 years ago and are outdated. Most of the regulations treat children ages 13 to 17 like adults. Many online products and services have not been designed with children as a primary audience.
In the IEEE Standards Association’s continued effort to help organizations create a safe, secure, privacy-preserving digital environment for youngsters, it recently released the second edition of “Applied Case Studies for Designing Trustworthy Digital Experiences for Children.” The report features the following eight products, which responsibly connect with children in age-appropriate ways, use minimal data collection, and offer improved ways of obtaining parental consent.
300M Learning Portal
Futureshift Consulting’s platform, TADAA!, provides engaging, age-appropriate content. In an effort to protect children’s identities, the portal employs minimal data collection. Nearly 2,000 schools across 17 states in India have used the platform, reaching more than 10 million children.
Honda Research Institute
A companion robot from the Honda Research Institute, Haru offers interactive storytelling and activities, with minimal data collection. The robot, aimed at children ages 6 to 16, was built with their health, safety, security, education, and socialization in mind. It requires parental or educator consent for advanced functions.
This community of secondary schools in India was established as a college-to-career path to help students with low socioeconomic status lift themselves out of poverty. None of the 54 government-run English schools in the city of Pune, Maharashtra, go beyond seventh grade—which restricts the students’ ability to attend college and limits their employment opportunities. Tablets provided to students by iTeach are equipped with software to disable access to content not suitable for them.
The company provides access to educational content in a variety of languages and subject areas for preuniversity students living in areas that lack Internet access. The platform, which collects minimal data about the students, runs on low-cost and legacy devices. The material follows national curricular standards for age-appropriate learning.
The Lego Group
The group uses verifiable parental consent (VPC) to support children’s rights and well-being on the Internet. A username generator eliminates the need for the child to create one that might accidentally include personal identifiers. VPC is required to access advanced digital experiences.
This online app for special-needs children offers skill-level-appropriate developmental games focused on cognitive, social, and language skills and features speech exercises. Otsimo obtains parental consent for such features as accessing the microphone and camera.
This digital identity platform helps organizations verify a user’s age and comply with the U.K. age-appropriate design code. Yoti asks children to authenticate their age and does not store their data. Proof of age includes facial age estimation and reference checks with mobile phone operators or credit agencies.
The company’s software and compliance solutions provide identity and consent management for parents through VPC. To comply with regulations for privacy and safety, the program restricts youngsters’ access at predetermined levels of services.
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This article appears in the June 2023 print issue as “8 Products That Protect Kids’ Digital Privacy.”
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