Child-designed Privacy Policy: qLegal x Ambessa Play

Child-designed Privacy Policy: qLegal x Ambessa Play

 Ambessa Play is a social enterprise that designs DIY STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) toy kits for kids. Children are our co-designers and come up with amazing ideas and suggestions for our kits!

 qLegal, an award-winning legal service based at Queen Mary University, provided Ambessa Play with support on our privacy policy last year. As we conduct a participatory approach (child-centred design) in everything we do, we asked ‘why not design a child-centred privacy policy?’.

For the last three months, we have partnered with qLegal and a Year 5 classroom in London, to design children-friendly privacy policies. qLegal consists of postgraduate law students at Queen Mary who work to provide support to start-ups and entrepreneurs. 

The law students were first introduced to the design thinking process by Karen Watton, director of qLegal. The students later split into two groups, Team Cubs and Team Marvels and worked with us and the Year 5 classroom of 30 children aged 9-10 years of age, over a series of three workshops. 


The first workshop consisted of learning about their current understanding of personal data, and privacy. This began with an ice breaker exercise using Shrek and Olaf where the Year 5 classroom shared what they thought to be Shrek’s personal data. 

Children were consistently reminded that their voice and expertise were most important and they could anonymously critically evaluate the law students’ final policies presented. A qualitative research methodology took place in which teams communicated real-life scenarios regarding privacy online.

Initial findings: 

  1. Children cared about their privacy and would love to learn more about privacy 
  2. Concern for commercial bodies i.e. specifically “Amazon, YouTube and what they do with their data” 
  3. No awareness of their rights i.e. to withdraw consent 
  4. The year 5 class previously learnt ‘stranger danger’ information so had some understanding of online safety. 

Children were keen to learn more about their online rights and why “websites aren’t clear with what they do”. We then got their feedback on our current privacy policy which the students thought was terrible and confusing.

The law students then split into two teams and worked with tables of children in the class, as to how they would rather learn about privacy. There were suggestions of a video format, quiz format, including animals or characters so it’s “easy to follow”. The classroom was engaged and excited to share their ideas. 

The law students returned with mock-ups of their suggestions to which the Year 5 students provided honest feedback. Children explained “I want to not be given lots and lots of text” or “I want to clearly understand what is going on”. Several children suggested a quiz format would help them test their knowledge but it shouldn’t include scores for example so it’s “not like a school test”. 

The two teams designed incredible policy mock-ups and presented their work in the final session. The year 5 classroom provided feedback for each team and voted which one they preferred and why. Team Cubs designed a storytelling/comic book version and Team Marvels designed an interactive quiz. Both teams worked with graphic designer Zeynep Oya Bayraktar to bring the kids’ ideas to life. 

Several children designed their policy mockups for us to integrate during their school hours. One child also shared that whilst on a gaming website in between our workshops, he noticed their privacy policy had “too much text no one adult would ever read this”, so with his parent’s permission, they emailed the website to advise “their policy should be more concise”.  

Pitch Day:

On the 6th of April, at the London Design District, the law students also presented their work to the judges, comprised of Patrick Rennie, a lawyer at Wiggin LP, Karen Watton, the director of qLegal and Ambessa Play. The audience, which consisted of lawyers working on GDPR and designers, voted for Team Cubs. The judges voted for both teams and recommended Ambessa Play include both elements of their work, keeping the quiz which children loved the most. The privacy policy will be uploaded pending legal review.

Student Experience:

Gagandeep, a Queen Mary University postgraduate law student who took part in the qLegal programme also shared his views:

“Educating children on data protection is crucial in the new tech era, so it was a pleasure to deliver a solution to Ambessa Play which sought to do just that – albeit for their specific privacy policy. It’s a curious suggestion that a group of postgraduate students (from a range of backgrounds) can produce something accessible to children, with children, whilst remaining sufficiently educative.  

The qLegal training we received, particularly the legal design workshops, called for a mixture of convergent and divergent thinking. The training, in combination with the research we carried out with the Year 5 classroom, allowed us to craft a solution. The entire experience was refreshing because I was able to explore an area of law, data protection, which I have not engaged with at length previously. I also found the experience to be eye-opening, as I discovered that children in 2022 are growing up in a vastly different world to the one that I grew up in. Therefore, their educational needs are different. 

The hardest part of the challenge speaks to the heart of the challenge itself: to simplify complex legal concept so it is accessible to children. Although children are honest critics, they were sometimes disengaged when faced with complex written information. At times, it was difficult to focus their attention on the task at hand so we could assess whether they understood a topic. This leads us to the most rewarding part of the challenge –the lightbulb moment for the children when they began to understand and engage with the contents of the privacy policy. One student ended our final research visit with a presentation of his own privacy policy. 

It truly felt like we were creating a meaningful impact on the classroom. Hopefully, this extends to all children that visit Ambessa Play’s website. By virtue of this challenge, I learned some key things. Firstly, most children [in the UK] have access to an internet-enabled device. Secondly, it is important for lawyers to consider how to make the law digestible for children. The risk, otherwise, is that the next generation of kids are unaware of the rules that protect them; and in an increasingly connected world this is an unacceptable position.” 

Barbora Korcova:

"Being a part of qLegal team and having an opportunity to work with Ambessa Play was a really enriching experience which showed me how to think differently about the law. We worked as a team on designing the most interactive and children friendly privacy policy which was a real challenge. In order to deliver the best results, we had to think outside the box and try to forget how to ‘think like a lawyer’. By using our creativity, we tried to attract and keep the attention of children as well as deliver quality content which is legally sound. The most rewarding part was then to see how children interact with our privacy policy and actually remember the law by engaging with our quiz."

Thank you:

A huge thank you to Ushna at Knight Dragon and Benedetta at the Design District London. 

qLegal Team: Karen Watton and Disha Vaghela

qLegal students: Nidanur yildiz Tokgoz, Alex DelipAllas-O’Donnell,

Gagan Nar, Nabrine Koroma, Harsh Satish Chadha, Mukthar Mustapha, Barbora Korcova, Shreya Sharma. 

Illustrations by Zeynep Oya Bayraktar.

Volunteers: Simran Motiani, Kavya Jain and Samuel Buyoya

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