Teaming up with the Digital Futures Commission

The Digital Futures Commission is an exciting research collaboration of unique organisations that invites innovators, policy makers, regulators, academics and civil society, to unlock digital innovation in the interests of children and young people. They are focusing on three areas: play in a digital world, beneficial uses of education data, and guidance for innovators. Each of these work streams will be informed by the voices of children and also parents, and underpinned by a research programme and outputs geared toward real world change for children.

This ambitious research programme is guided by a group of Commissioners with expertise in how children and digital technology intersect. Our programme of work led by Professor Sonia Livingstone OBE during the three years of the Commission will be focused on real world change for children and young people. The Commission was officially launched in 20 November, and the initiator 5Rights Foundation and Parents International decided to team up on parental engagement – first in the United Kingdom and later in a broader context.

To understand what good looks like for children’s play in a digital world, the Commission cut through today’s anxious confusion by integrating insights from multiple sources of expertise to synthesise the value of play in childhood. Informed by public consultation, the Commission will then evaluate opportunities to transpose the qualities of play into digital contexts, and propose ways to enhance them. The first report, A Panorama of Play, reviews the rich history of ideas about free play and proposes the qualities of play that matter in a digital world. Download PDF here. What do children and young people, parents/carers, civil society and the children’s workforce think about children’s play in a digital world? In the Digital Futures Commission’s first consultation, questions are asked on how the qualities that make play an integral and valuable part of childhood manifest in the digital environment. What are the barriers and enablers that the different groups consider important, and what do they want to change?

High hopes are held for the advances of big data, learning analytics and AI to benefit children’s education. To ensure these serve children’s interests, the Commission will create a review of policy and practice in combination with new school-centred user research will generate recommendations for child-rights-respecting data governance mechanisms that can unlock the potential of education data.

To embed children’s best interests in the design and development of digital products and services, the Commission will map existing and emerging rights-based and value-sensitive guidance. Combined with consultations with children, parents, industry and other relevant actors, and tested through industry case studies, the outcome will be practical child rights-respecting guidance for digital innovators.

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