Providing a kid safe experience online
Kids are all over the internet, but because the internet wasn’t built for them, it has become a playground filled with unknown dangers. Alongside SuperAwesome, we dive into the topic of kids’ online behaviour and safety.
Internet safety and data protection are all the rage at the moment as GDPR recently became effective. All over the world, companies are now scrambling to get the last precautions in order to become GDPR(-K) compliant. And the data hype is impossible not to notice as inboxes are getting spammed with “we’ll protect your data” emails, processes being changed and enhanced and old archives and folders getting a never-seen-before spring cleaning.
At Funday Factory, we welcome the new regulations and restrictions as we care deeply about kids’ online safety and data protection. And so does SuperAwesome - a UK-based technology company enabling safe, digital engagement with kids – with whom we’ve teamed up to take a closer look at data and online safety.
The importance of a kid safe internet
Before we dig into the topic let’s take a look at what kids safety means. To provide a kid-safe internet means that kids are only exposed to kid-friendly content and that they do not provide others with or leave personal data in online spaces where the data is unprotected and can be used to identify them.
When we asked SuperAwesome why internet safety is so important when it comes to kids, they quickly pointed to the fact that it is a fundamental challenge for parents to keep track of their kids’ online behaviour:
“In the physical world, we take it for granted that parents have a say on how their kids grow up, where they spend their time and what is, or isn’t, appropriate. On the internet, this is not the case. For parents, understanding how and where kids are accessing and interacting with information, content and people online is vital. This is something that has suffered from a knowledge gap, since it is common for kids to know more about the digital world than their parents. With thousands of kids going online for the first time every day, it should follow that safety and parents need to be a bigger part of the conversation.”
As SuperAwesome further states, the problem with kids’ internet activity increases further as there has been zero focus on kids as an online audience: “This has created damaging situations with kids not being protected enough from real danger, and often forced them into ‘adult’ destinations and social platforms.”
In recent years however, privacy regulations such as COPPA and GDPR-K (the section of GDPR which deals specifically with kids) have helped bringing the challenges to light - but there is still a long way to the finish line and a kid-safe internet: “Almost none of the commonly-used technology platforms out there have been built for kids, and this is what we would see as the key issue. If we want to allow our kids to grow up being able to deal with a world that includes all the benefits of technology, it is important that we allow them to develop in a safe environment and teach them about the do’s and don’ts in the same way we do in the physical world,” says SuperAwesome.
“Kids are spending more and more time online, and if we don’t ensure that the platforms they are using are operating in a safe, responsible and private way, then we are letting them down.”Chief Strategy Officer Paul Nunn, SuperAwesome
Kid safety and age
At Funday Factory, we work with kids on a daily basis, and we care fiercely about making age-appropriate games and digital experiences. Age-appropriate design means taking the cognitive and physical differences between age groups into consideration - and with these differences in mind, we asked SuperAwesome at what age in life they find kid safety to be most important.
“In a product sense, the pre-school market is more clearly governed and provided for, and therefore safer. This is due to the fact that you are dealing with the parent, rather than directly with the child”
Once kids become autonomous on the internet, it becomes much more difficult to ensure that they’re safe online. Between the ages of 7 and 12 (roughly) there is a real void of great products, platforms and destinations designed specifically for the audience. 90% are designed for everyone, and most specify over-13 in terms of their privacy settings. This means that kids lie about their age in order to use the platforms, which in turn offers them zero protection (as the product considers them adults).”
The principles of privacy
Using the principles of privacy and responsibility by design, SuperAwesome provides technology that is built to protect kids to allow the companies that use our kidtech to make great kids products, including games, apps, and websites. Kids companies such as Mattel and Disney are experts at creating great experiences kids love, and by taking care of the technical and compliance complexities around online safety, we enable them to navigate the space in a much more effective way.
A few steps toward a kidsafe digital experience
Being producers of kids content at Funday Factory, we are very aware of making digital spaces kid safe and if we can help shed light on how this can be done, we feel obliged to do so. So we asked SuperAwesome which simple precautions they would advise producers of children’s content to take to ensure a safe environment
“The most important thing is to make sure you’re using kid specialist technology for your kids audience. If the technology you’re using has been built with kids in mind, it will function in a way that has privacy and responsibility at its core, enabling you to focus on producing great content, rather than navigating the difficulties of compliance.”Chief Technology Officer and co-founder Joshua Wöhle, SuperAwesome
And if we move beyond the legal steps, there is also a moral side to the story. Being producers of digital content for kids, not only do we have an obligation to produce high-quality content - we also have the responsibility of watching out for our target group. So based on our own experience, we also believe that it is highly important to be a digitally present parent. As Kristian Bang Nørgaard, CEO at Funday Factory, says: “Take a real interest in the kids’ digital behaviour and teach them about critical thinking, control and reflection when it comes to what they spend their time on in the digital landscape. Just like in the physical world, kids need to be taught healthy manners that help them safely through life on the internet.”
SuperAwesome powers the kids’ digital ecosystem. Their technology is used by hundreds of brands and content-owners to safely engage with over 500M kids every month. The company has pioneered the ‘kidtech’ market: technology which delivers digital media functionality with a ‘zero-data’ design to ensure total safety for kids.Check out SuperAwesome
Published: June 1st, 2018