Our Manifesto to change the industry

 Purposely designing addictive services to later reprimand children and young adults for being obsessed with their devices is a great paradox of our society. The claim from the digital environment of  promoting progress, creativity and knowledge fails against the use of persuasive strategies primarily for commercial purposes. Children and young adults are overwhelmed. They require more intentional use of digital technologies and more time out. Services must be designed to anticipate the rights and needs of children and young adults.

 The development of a global governance system for the digital technology sector must be a  priority for governments and international institutions. We propose the following recommendations to ensure that the design of digital services and products is appropriate for children and young adults.

 We need your help and support to establish compulsive use of technology as a public health issue. Meanwhile ,we ask the industry to acknowledge the problem and take remedial steps.

Design all services to make it as easy to stay offline as it currently is to get online.

Companies can start adding these design features:

  • Auto-play by default off, and if changed, return back to ‘off’ once a child logs out or navigates away.
  • Notifications by default off, such as buzzes, read receipts, pings and all other alerts.
  • By default off-line periods.
  • Save buttons (so children are not forced to stay online to complete a task).
  • Time out and disengagement opportunities; standardized, easily accessible and frequently offered, even if it is not in services’ commercial interests. This includes regular reminders of time spent.
  • Always offer a paying alternative to data collection.
  • Stop gathering children’s data for the sole purpose increasing user retention, through personalization.

Develop and Child Impact Assessments on:

  • Existing services and products.
  • Future services and products before roll out , in particular noting the ethical implications of emerging technologies and considering their impact on children.
  • Work on an ethical framework built on principles of transparency, accountability, responsibility with external oversight.
  • Clearly and succinctly inform children (and parents of younger children) when persuasive design features are being used, and outline possible impacts, including sleep deprivation, loss of concentration, educational outcomes and effects on emotional state and behavior.
  • Provide online services and products that prioritize children’s interests over commercial considerations.