[Note: Author is creator of Roo Kids App, an Instant Messaging app for children where parents have access to the contacts and always know who the kid is chatting with.]
Easing Children into Real World
As automobiles started to became commonplace on the roads, parents started teaching their children how to cross a road. Our schools started talked about safety habits around the roads. School buses added STOP sign, so traffic could give way to a kid crossing the road.
The Digital Future
A digital future is inevitable and some argue we are already there. As the 4th Industrial Revolution rolls in, how do we ease and educate our kids into such a world?
Not Just The Parents
No, it is not the responsibility of just the parents. It is everybody’s concern. Especially those who are involved in creation of products (including startup founders who are re-inventing the world). Will it be easy for kids to step into this re-invented world? Or, will they stumble and fall prey to it?
Manifesto For Children Inclusive Digital Future
We (Startup Founders, Product Managers, Product Designers, Product Business Managers, Technologist) are developing products and helping others do it while keeping children in mind.
Through this work we have come to value:
- Products that provide an overlap of safety oversight & digital access over products that are command-control tools or promote digital ignorance
[Rather than building products that isolate tech or isolate kids, we will build products that 1/ expose enough for kids to learn & explore and 2/ provide tools to provide sufficient oversight to maintain safety.]
- Products that consider incidental or accidental use by children over products that assume otherwise
[Never assume that a child will not incidentally or accidentally access our product. Have we considered that in our design, implementation and usage guidelines? Responsibility towards children is not restricted to products created for children.]
- Products that respect individuality, intelligence and privacy of a child over products that make stereotypic generalization like age ranges, gender, etc.
[Standardization makes sense when we can’t customize at scale. Digital products allow for customization and personalization at large scale. Digital products should adapt to a child and present a match but without violation of privacy and then providing for sufficient anonymity. Privacy also includes providing children enough space where they are assured privacy in context of parents too but always within a safe space.]
That is, while there was value in the items on the right in early days of digital evolution, we value the items on the left more.