KOALA Hero: Inform Children of Privacy Risks of Mobile Apps


Children’s online activities are routinely tracked, aggregated, and exploited by online services, to manipulate children’s online behaviour or monetise. This contributes to the so-called datafied childhood. Unfortunately, such datafication remains largely invisible behind the services and is practically impossible to avoid. Existing approaches largely focus on direct online harms, and provide limited support to raise children’s awareness or understanding of how their data may be processed, transmitted across platforms, and used to affect their best interests. Through co-design workshops, we identified key barriers for children and families to cope with this type of data privacy risk. Our contribution is that instead of regarding children as passive users and needing protection, we draw on critical digital literacy theories and design a KOALA Hero app, which is aimed to enhance children’s cognitive, situated and critical thinking of datafication and online data privacy risks. KOALA Hero represents our first step towards facilitating children’s understanding of the invisible data privacy risks. We hope future empirical evaluations will further inform us regarding how our design approaches may affect the thinking process and behaviours of children and families.

In 21st edition of the ACM Interaction Design and Children (IDC) Conference
Ge Wang
Ge Wang
DPhil (Ph.D.) student

I’m a Dphil student in the Department of Computer Science at University of Oxford. My research investigates the algorithmic impact on families and children, and what that means for their long-term development. I’m keen to explore the potential for designing more age-appropriate AI for families, as well as building more ethical web and data architecture for them. My research takes a human-centric approach, and focuses on understanding users' needs in order to design technological prototypes that are of real impact on today’s society.