Digital Futures Commission: Playful by Design

Fulfil Child Rights in the Metaverse with Playful by Design Principles. Make the metaverse playful by design not risky by design.

The metaverse promises richer, immersive 3D experiences, seamlessly converging physical and digital realities. But, is it great for children – and does it respect their needs and rights?

The Digital Futures Commission (5Rights) has developed and tested Playful by Design as a proactive rather than reactive cure for today’s digital ills. These principles derive from extensive research which we draw upon in our presentation comprising a UK-wide survey with children aged 6 to 17, a public consultation with children aged 3 to 18, parents, caregivers and professionals working with children and literature reviews on play. Our Playful by Design principles prescribe a reduction of compulsive and privacy-invasive digital features along with crucial enabling features to ensure that children’s immersive play is intrinsically motivated and voluntary, enhances children’s imagination, and offers inclusivity, diversity and agency. Last but not least, Playful by Design requires digital innovators and product developers to recognise children’s evolving capacities by making their products and services age-appropriate and safe. These are the principles that the metaverse should be built on, reflecting children’s voices, so that the next generation internet respects children’s rights rather than exploits their vulnerabilities through dark patterns, commercial profiling or abuses of persuasive design.