Privacy & Safety for Young People
When it comes to designing age-appropriate experiences online, there are complex privacy and safety issues to consider. Young people and guardians should be able to use, understand and have agency over technology, which is ever-changing.
Adapt to young people as they grow
“I’m figuring out the kind of person I want to be.”
Designing digital apps for young people is designing for change. Paths are not linear.
For younger people who are not yet aware of the potential downsides of online services, digital app developers and designers might provide support through intervention, while also providing educational opportunities to learn about potential downsides and build skills in the background. Ongoing and consistent support is important to help build skills and become more empowered; the level of support might reduce thoughtfully as self-efficacy and autonomy increase over time.
Just because some older teens might be more autonomous, it doesn’t mean they don’t need support. For example, their needs might be more centered on on-demand support and education when a specific occasion arises. A sense of autonomy may also lead to complacency before they have sufficient life experience. As teens who might be more familiar with digital experiences or be more mature, it’s important to also give them the opportunity as role models to share their knowledge with their peers - since we’ve learned that younger teens appreciate learning from their older peers or siblings as well.
Digital app developers and designers can help support young people with guardrails and facilitate their best interests towards safe and increasingly independent interactions online.
Meet young people and parents where they’re at
“Show them that they can trust you and that you’re responsible enough to do your own thing without them checking on you”
Education is not a one-time experience in real life, which means it can’t be a one-time experience online either. Learning is an ongoing, evolving process.
In order to provide robust education about personal safety and privacy online, digital app developers and designers should build experiences that meet young people where they are, speak to their distinct needs, and support their journey with proactive educational experiences that change over time and help teens to set their own limits.
Parents and guardians may often feel they lack the context to understand their childrens’ online experiences. Parents need help to demystify digital apps and social technologies. They also need lightweight ways to potentially intervene and interact with their teens through digital services, including ways to approve and supervise their teens that enhance communication between them and their children. The right tools and insights can make family conversations and actions around social technology more productive.
Support families with meaningful tools for positive exploration
“I mean, it’s me, in the video. Don’t I get a say who sees it?”
Digital app designers and developers must consider and accommodate the complex relationships young people can have with friends as well as family members including parents or guardians, which change over time.
Young people can be sophisticated online, often managing several apps at once. They adapt the way they present themselves, communicate with others, and share depending on the context and audience as they mature. We need to balance the need for prevention and protection with guardrails, tools and experiences that allow young people to discover, explore, play and communicate online.
As digital interactions become more complex with current and future emerging technoloogies, app developers and designers must find new ways to make sure that managing life online it isn't a burden for young people and parents or guardians.
TTC Labs has a focus on multi-stakeholder collaboration for age-appropriate experiences online by running co-design research and consultation globally.
We are bringing together industry, government, academics, civil society as well as young people and parents/guardians to explore shared challenges, generating insights and inspiration.Get Involved