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

Posted on: Sunday 07 July 2013 4:24pm by John Kent


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 there be in the store, and who should be the gatekeepers – developers, regulators, parents, NGOs? Interestingly there’s a feeling from industry that when the US regulators were defining the new COPPA rules, they heard specific strategic responses from individuals rather than seeking a broad industry perspective and fixes that wouldn’t kill innovation. (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

Event Reports

John Kent, Digital Director – Kids Industries

About the author

John Kent

Kids Industries, Digital Director

John is a content strategist and producer with more than 20 years experience, and now works as Digital Director at Kids Industries – developing strategy and producing sites and apps. Recent work includes a new strategy and relaunch for Al Jazeera Children's Channel and new branding and relaunch for licensing… Read more