The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)

What’s Good? Trust and Quality in a Digital World

The Children's Media Conference took place in Sheffield from the 3rd to the 5th July 2013.

As part of the Children's Media Foundation's programme to extend and revitalise the public debate around children and their media use, the CMF sponsored a discussion panel at the Conference on the increasingly pressing topic of trust and responsibility in digital delivery to kids.

Nick Walters produced a session looking at the current issues of trust, security and responsibility amongst online and App providers - a session in which industry insiders questioned whether the unscrupulous threatened the livelihood of the industry and platform providers who refuse to acknowledge children as part of their audience should start to take up up the responsibilities which come with near-universal reach and huge profits...

John Kent blogged the session for the CMC and that's reproduced here:

The safety of children of children in the digital space is a perennial topic of conversation, and one that often crops up at CMC. Over the past twelve months new concerns have developed around in app purchase on top of the usual concerns around social networking and e-safety.


  1. The press image of children’s digital media – is that its dangerous, unscrupulous, eats too much time and that no one takes responsibility.  US studies suggest that parents are not overwhelmed – but they are concerned about privacy, in app purchase and their children coming across inappropriate content. The concerns tend to be around companies who are reaching kids but not targeting them. (David Kleeman)
  2. The Scale of  the problem is enormous! There are 900k apps in the app store and thousands of developers. In the autumn, Apple’s announced an app store specifically for children. But what safeguards will the be in the store, and who should be the gatekeepers – developers, regulators, parents, NGOs? Interestingly the new COPA regulations did not consult anyone from industry. (David Kleeman)
  3. The model of the 99p app purchase is unsustainable. No one really wants to say out loud that companies working in the children’s digital space need to make money. And until we can be honest about that we’re not going to solve the problem.  (David Kleeman)
  4. ‘Quality’ can mean different things. You can have low quality education and high quality entertainment. Perceived quality will vary depending on the age of the child, and the individual’s needs. Whose job is it to say what is quality? (David Kleeman)
  5. Quality can mean reinforcing brand experiences and not feeling like a bolt on. Good storytelling and good characters will enrich the experience for the user (Juliet Tzabar, Eric Huang)
  6. Children are navigating the digital world, but what about their parents? There has been a big shift since parents were kids, away from a clear set of rules (a simple schedule and limited channels) to the wild west of content available almost everywhere. The reality is that access to this ‘martini’ content will be unmediated – and that puts an onus on producers to ensure that we’re making content that both touches children and is appropriate for children. (Marc Goodchild)
  7. GAFA – Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple are the gatekeepers to so much content.  Most companies recognise they have a responsibility towards children. The question for them is how much will they let that responsibility get in the way of their business. (Nick Walters et al)
  8. If a teenager creates a profile on Facebook, their privacy settings will be set automatically to be tighter than an adult’s. Who knew?
  9. Children will always find their way around the gateways that prevent them from finding content. Eric Huang recalled that he and his sister used to get up after their parents had gone to bed to watch late night MTV. Marc Goodchild echoed the sentiment – some kids will push against technology at a certain age, but not everyone will do that. Content does not need to be so secure its impenetrable, and as a child gets older, they can learnt things from slightly older. But there’s a difference between a child actively going out to find older content. and them tripping over things because it’s freely available. (Marc Goodchild)
  10. In a media world where there is no watershed and the gateways to content are uncertain – children, trust and the digital world is a perennial at CMC. There were lots of interesting tit bits in this session, but we know there’s an issue. We need to move the issue on… could we see some case studies of how different projects are tackling this issue – the good, the bad and the ugly? Should the CMF be developing it’s own set of best practices? Just a thought. Maybe next year? (Your blogger).

Marc Goodchild – Children’s Media Foundation
Eric Huang – Mind Candy
David Kleeman – PlayCollective
Diana Stepner – Pearson
Juliet Tzabar – Plug-In Media

Moderator & Producer – Nick Walters
Exec producer – Sharna Jackson

There are blogs available for every session and workshop at CMC 2013

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The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)