In Collaboration with
Louise Skajem, Marco Da Re, Arnau Donate Duch

/ Children’s Autonomy
/ Digital Environment

Designing safe and age-appropriate
online environment for children.

Oasis is an integrated extension for web browsers, aiming to empower children with greater autonomy, while strengthening the parent-child interaction and improving data literacy skills through a co-educational approach.

Defining the Problem
How might we create a safer online environment for children to explore freely while maintaining their data privacy and increasing their data literacy?

The digital environment was not designed for children but by adults for adult users, but still a third of its 3 billion users are children. Technology is an inevitable part of children’s lives from an early age, and they get exposed to the internet as much as the adults do through these smart devices. This high exposure to technology from an early age indicates that children’s development will be subject to change in relation to their internet use.

Literacy of Data. Children are more vulnerable on online platforms than adults due to their lack of awareness of privacy.

Parent’s Role in Children’s Online Activities.  Children aged 5-11 seek their parents advice and consultation, and communicate with parents if they face a concerning situation online. While parents play a crucial role in children’s online experience, their current main concerns are the children’s screen time, possibility of meeting a stranger and cyberbullying.

It is important to develop long-lasting skills around safer online behaviours at a young age, in order to prepare them for their transition to adolescence and adulthood in the rapidly changing Internet environment.

Design of Intervention. It is crucial to implement suitable interventions seeing that an inconsiderate intervention may restrict children’s play, development and agency. On the other hand, a correct intervention can empower children’s independence.

Empowering Child-Parent Relationship.  The Oasis system accommodates interaction between parent and child, and can therefore be a fitting place to improve both parent and child’s data literacy.Parents are an essential part of the intervention and will monitor their children’s online activities via a combination of two mediation techniques: the direct and the active parental mediation.
Design Principles & Intention
We simultaneously aim to increase the data literacy skills of both children and parents by showing explanations about data and including icons to categorize and to better understand website contents. Achieving literacy awareness of one's privacy literacy is important in the adaptation of privacy-protective behaviour [17].In particular, understanding how to protect one's privacy may be a good start for a conscious internet user who will be able to conduct his or her business appropriately in the future [18].

Foremost, our intervention will protect and support the children’s natural development by allowing play, autonomy and agency.

Dashboard and Access Request. Informing parents about their children’s online actions, extend their data knowledge and create opportunities to have offline interactions with children. The co-viewing of data and online activities can create meaningful connections between parent and child and reduce the parent’s anxiety of online platforms.

Process Highlights

Research into Literature and Existing Code
We developed our design proposal through following the ICO’s 16 standards for the design of online services and “the right to privacy and protection of their data”, and the literature reviews and scientific papers to maintain the healthy growth of children’s autonomy and independence.

Designing the Structure
We translated the existing features into more children friendly concepts to create a safer environment. Then we build the new user flow accordingly.

Special thanks to Dr. Nejra Van Zalk for creating a deeper understanding of psychology in the design process.